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Our definition of what makes a woman powerful has long been dominated by Western concepts of independence and single-mindedness. But I see strength when I look at many South Asian women throughout history, from the Rani of Jahnsi to ordinary women like my very own grandmother who was silently the backbone of her family. Although we cannot relate to their challenges from our 21st century perspective, it is on closer inspection that we realize these women are so inspiring.

Janani Sekar is a member of the Class of 2023 at Harvard College.

Graphic: Pineapple Supply Co. / Unsplash

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