New book to tell stories of India’s premier women doctors

Inspirational stories of India's premier women doctors like Anandibai Joshee, the first female physician, Mary Poonen Lukose, the first female surgeon general, and Muthulakshmi Reddi, the first woman to work as a surgeon in a government hospital, will be part of a new book.

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Published by Westland, and written by journalist-author Kavitha Rao, the book intends to unearth the stories of these forgotten women and make them accessible to everyone.

It traces the unconventional paths followed by these strong women and sheds light on how their success impacted the medical learning for women in India.

It will tell the story of Kadambini Ganguly, the first Indian female doctor who practised with a degree in western medicine, and of Rukhmabai Raut, a doctor who escaped child marriage and helped raise the age of marriage through the Age of Consent Act.

“Early women doctors in the nineteenth century crossed oceans, escaped child marriages, divorced husbands, and defied Hindu orthodoxy to become ‘lady doctors’.

“Their compelling stories have been erased from our memories, because histories have mostly been written by men, about men. This book intends to unearth their stories and make them accessible to everyone, so that they are not forgotten,” said Rao.

According to the publishers, the book uncovers many prejudices of those times, and is filled with important lessons for modern women too.

“They do not appear in our textbooks or museums, and have been largely erased from Indian history. This book, an investigation into the lives of these radical women who had such a profound impact, is a valuable one that aims to fill this lacuna,” said Gautam Padmanabhan, CEO, Westland Publishing.

The book will hit stands in 2020.

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