Have you heard about these iconic personalities who paved the way for women and girls today to enter the medical field?
Anandibai Joshi was the first Indian woman to become a physician. Despite being married at the age of nine and reckoning with the death of her first child when she was fourteen years old, she took control over her own life, deciding to pursue a degree in western medicine from the United States. Before leaving, she addressed a public gathering where she spoke about the need for more women to become doctors in India. Unfortunately, she passed away of tuberculosis before she could start practising.
Despite facing severe opposition from the time of her Calcutta University entrance exam to when she decided to finish her studies abroad, Kadambini Ganguly definitely made her mark in the medical field. In 1884, Kadambini Ganguly became the first woman to be admitted to the Calcutta Medical College (CMC). Later, she became the first south Asian woman to practise western medicine.
Rukhmabai was one of the first women in India to become a doctor. She also fought against all odds to achieve this, asserting her right not to continue with a marriage she did not consent to. She was married at a young age, and appeared in court for the Dadaji vs. Rukhmabai case, taking a stand for her right to make choices for herself. After her separation from her husband, she moved abroad to pursue medicine. Eventually, she practised in Bombay for 35 years.
Padmavati Iyer was an important name in cardiology (a medical field which deals with treating heart-related issues) and also founding director of the National Heart Institute located in Delhi. India’s first Doctorate of Medicine in Cardiology was established for her. In 1967, she was awarded the Padma Bhushan (a national award given to people for distinguished service of a high order in any field) and in 1992, the Padma Vibhushan (a national award given to people for exceptional and distinguished service of a high order in any field).
Manjula Anagani is known for having brought innovations to the fields of gynaecology and obstetrics. She has worked on minimally invasive surgery techniques, surgery methods that cause the least possible disruption to the patient’s daily life. She was awarded the Padma Shri (a national award given to people for distinguished service in any field) in 2015.
You can read a lot more about these inspiring doctors and other pioneering Indian women here.