Desi Women of the Decade: Poll #4

Desi Women of Decade.jpg

Back in my younger mutinous days, when I was the youngest in the bunker, I wrote this post on “cool” desi women under the age of 30. I wrote it because I wanted to highlight other Desi American women in my age range who were “doing something”. A list like that didn’t exist then. We have since had many more young folk added to the mutinous blog roll in the bunker and there are even more Desi women than ever doing amazing things.

I too am jumping on the ’00 decade list making band wagon. In the past decade, I went from being a nascent 20 year old to a pseudo-mature 30 yr old. But more significantly, I think of how in 2000, as a desi girl in the U.S., I didn’t have any South Asian American females that I could turn to – as role models, as women breaking barriers, as women in the media. It was alienating and isolating, to not see Desi women breaking glass ceilings. I didn’t realize that there were things that desi girls could do outside of the “model minority job list” – I had no one really to look towards. In these past ten years, the South Asian American community has grown with leaps and bounds. Strong desi women have coming out of the wood works. They are on big screens, on the shelves of major book stores, and profiled in the news. Desi women are running for office, going to space, starting and directing non-profits, and running companies. I am so proud of to be a Desi woman of this decade, to be a part of a community giving the next generation of Desi girls role models to look up to.

So here is my mutinous list of the top 20 most influential South Asian American Women of the Decade (in alphabetical order). Please vote on the woman that you feel has been most influential to you in the poll at the bottom of the post. Alpana Singh – She is the youngest female master sommelier in the country. Based in Chicago, Alpana hosts a local PBS restaurant review show (started in 2003), has published Alpana Pours: About Being a Woman, Loving Wine, and Having Great Relationships (2006), and has a regular weekly wine column.

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About Taz

Taz is an activist, organizer and writer based in California. She is the founder of South Asian American Voting Youth (SAAVY), curates and blogs at Follow her at

109 thoughts on “Desi Women of the Decade: Poll #4

  1. @ Orville: I am a south asian (indian) guy. I don’t follow all the news and dont follow SM regularly, but still.. I have NEVER heard of your oh so famous Irshad. Also if “Irshad has been on FOX News, CNN, PBS, and other high profile USA networks”, then why are you whining that she is not on SM? Now let me clarify something before I attack you Orville. 9 out of 10 times I do not agree/like Taz’s writings or I feel indifferent about what she may write. However, if she misses one of your pet favorites, it does not give you a right to make assumptions that she is missing person X, who happens to be lesbian, because this person is lesbian. Mira Nair has made FIRE, so if Taz were indeed homophobic according to your baseless allegation, Mira Nair would have also been easily boycotted.

    For a first time comment on this write up, you have absolutely no right to make assumptions and personally make character judgements on authors. Maybe if you are soooo good at keeping track of popular people, you should have already written a complete post about this instead of three useless rant comments.

    There I am done. By the way, I am a proud Hindu who can accept that there are other ways to heaven. How many orthodox people from other religions can accept that. How many “unbelieving” atheists can accept that for other people?

  2. I haven’t seen a stupider comment than pakidrums. To even list Sumaya Kazi in the same breath as Indira Nooyi or Mira Nair is a joke. Ms. Kazi has done NOTHING. She belongs to the new generation of self-promoters who talk about themselves. Starting a newsletter that talks about others and interviewing young South Asians compared to running Pepsi or making movies that influence millions?!?!

    Jeez!! Get a clue.

  3. muslim, hindu, sikh, parsi, whatever -i have far more in common with a brown woman of any religion than i would with a white woman who happened to share my religion. as far as this list goes – religion is a non-factor for me.

    that said, moving this thread to a more positive light, it makes me very proud to see the collection of photos in the collage. something about just looking at those brown faces and not necessarily knowing their religion touches my heart and sense of pride.

    good post, taz.

  4. “Sepia Mutiny” is about ethnic Indians/Indo-Americans, is it not? So why shouldn’t there be a focus on those of Indian background, as opposed to from other countries in South Asia? The word “Desi” refers to Indians; it’s not a popular word in Sri Lanka, for example,

  5. @campmuir “muslim, hindu, sikh, parsi, whatever -i have far more in common with a brown woman of any religion than i would with a white woman who happened to share my religion.”

    I am wondering if you are really believing this thing you have said above. It is interesting to me that you see the color of your skin as a trump on commonality, above that to education, community, class or language. So I am just wondering, you would feel more akin to a beggar living on the streets of Delhi in rags with no education than to a person of another race with an education or upbringing that is same to yours?

  6. Just a thought, but how many of these people listed, believe that all beings should be treated equally?

  7. may be this blog is owned by an indian american.but desis all over the world read and comment on the list shoud be globally recognized desi women