Women TalkInspiring Stories

Meet Kadambini Ganguly, India’s first female doctor who earned 3 Bachelor’s degree in Medicine

An inspiring tale of India’s first female Doctor who broke many stereotypes in her life 

The story of Kadambini Ganguly is an inspiration to millions of people of the country. At the time when there was a ban on the education of girls in our country, at that time Kadambini Ganguly not only studied but also became the country’s first graduate and physician by getting a doctor’s degree. Kadambini Ganguly is the first woman doctor not only in India but also in the whole of South Asia. Kadambini Ganguly had to struggle a lot to become a doctor at the time when girls’ education was also banned. A lot of bad things were also talked about. A lot of things were talked about in her studies and job, but she continued her work regardless of society. Kadambini Ganguly herself got an education, but she also raised the voice of women’s education throughout her life.

How was her childhood and her quest for education?

India’s first female doctor Kadambini Ganguly was born on 18 July 1861 in Bhagalpur, Bihar. Kadambini Ganguly’s father’s name was Brij Kishore Basu. In 1878, Kadambini became the first girl to pass the entrance exam of Calcutta University. After completing her schooling, Kadambini Ganguly earned her bachelor’s degree from Kolkata University in the year 1882. At that time Kadambini Ganguly was the first woman in India to have a bachelor’s degree. Along with Kadambini Ganguly, another Indian woman also graduated in the same year. After graduating, Kadambini Ganguly obtained a degree in medical science from the Kolkata University in the year 1886. In this way, Kadambini Ganguly along with Anandi Gopal Joshi obtained a degree together in the year 1886. Both these women are remembered as India’s first female doctors.

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She broke many stereotypes in her life

Kadambini Ganguly met Dwarkanath Ganguly while studying in college. Dwarkanath Ganguly was 39 years old at that time while Kadambini Ganguly was 21 years old. Apart from this, Dwarkanath Ganguly was a widower. He also had five children. Despite this, Kadambini Ganguly married Dwarkanath Ganguly on 12 June 1883. At the same time, Kadambini Ganguly also gave birth to three children. In this way, Kadambini Ganguly took care of 8 children along with a job.

How she fought for female rights and became an inspiration to millions of women?

After earning a degree in medicine, Kadambini Ganguly went abroad and did her higher education in medicine from the universities of Glasgow and Edinburgh. After coming back to India, Kadambini Ganguly started practicing and also started taking part in social movements. Kadambini Ganguly raised her voice prominently for women’s education, improving the condition of women coal miners and women’s rights.

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Even after becoming a female doctor, Kadambini Ganguly’s struggle did not subside. Many times Kadambini Ganguly had to spend the night in the hospital due to work, due to which the society used to question her character. Many people called her characterless and other derogatory names. Once in the year 1894, Dev Shamsher Jung Bahadur Rana, the mother of the ruler of Nepal, fell ill. By that time the fame of Kadambini Ganguly had spread all over. The ruler of Nepal also came to know about Kadambini Ganguly’s medical qualifications. After that, he called Kadambini Ganguly to Nepal for the treatment of his mother. Kadambini Ganguly went to Nepal and successfully treated the mother of the ruler of Nepal.

Her extraordinary life is an inspiration to many women out there

Kadambini was India’s first working mom. It was not easy for her to play the role of mother, doctor, and social activist together, but she was no ordinary woman. She was the one who infused the spirit of life in any woman. As a champion of women’s education and rights, Kadambini Ganguly may have long gone, but she will never be forgotten!

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Jagisha Arora

MA in History and has worked as a freelance writer. She writes on issues of gender, caste and democracy.
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