By Arunima Singh
They were the pioneers, shattered the age-old barriers of gender and traditions, fought their way to achieve the unimaginable and left a mark in a history. These Indian women we must know them, celebrate them and be them.
Anandibai Gopal Rao Joshi (1866-1887)
She became the first Indian female physician in 1887. She was also the first Indian woman to procure a medical degree in United States. Anandi was a pioneer to women who wanted to take up medicine field. She could not live her dreams of treating patients as health deteriorated in second year. She still completes her studies and returned to India only to be diagnosed with tuberculosis. She passed away at the age of 21 but paved a way for the coming generations of women.
Asima Chatterjee: Scientist (1917-2006)
Asima Chatterjee is the first female scientist in India. She received her PhD in organic chemistry. She conducted her research in organic chemistry and medicinal plants. Her work was extensively devoted in developing anti- epileptic and anti-malarial drugs. She has numerous research papers illustrating the medicinal properties of plants to her credits.
Dr. Rakhmabai: Physician and Feminist (1864-1955)
She is one of the first practising woman doctors in India after receiving her degree from London School of Medicine for Women. She is also associated with a remarkable judgment and legislation that was enacted in 1891, that changed the age of consent from 10 to 12 years across British India. She refused to move in with her future husband’s family at the young age of 12. The judge ruled in favour of her prospective husband but she still refused. It was her resistance that lead to a discussion on practice of child brides and consent. She kept practicing medicine till retirement.
Dr. Muthulakshmi Reddy: Physician and Social Reformer (1886-1968)
She was the first female to be enrolled in a men’s college in India. In spite of various constraints faced by girls in India during that time, she completed her higher education and took up medical profession. She is the first women house surgeon in Government Maternity and Ophthalmic Hospital. She was also the first woman legislature in British India, the first chairperson of the state social advisory board, the first deputy president of the legislative council and the first Alderwomen of the Madras Corporation Avvai home. She was also instrumental in abolishing in abolishing the “Devdasi System”. She started the “Adyar Cancer Institute in 1952 which treats more than 80,000 patients a year. She was conferred “Padma Bhushan” in 1956 for her revolutionary work and services throughout her Life.