160 years ago, on this day, July 18, Kadambini Ganguly was born in a Bengali family in Bhagalpur, Bihar. As a child, she was rebellious with regard to sexism and patriarchy and was very hard-working as a student.
During her childhood, she had witnessed that in her area many women used to die without treatment as women could not get proper treatment because all doctors were males and Indian social culture didn’t approve a male doctor treating a female patient. From here, she dreamt of becoming a doctor during her childhood.
However, things didn’t happen according to her. She was married off at young age and thus she thought her dreams would go down the gutter. But it was then her husband who supported her in every walk of her life. She did her schooling partly at Banga Mahila Vidyalaya and partly at Bethune School. In 1878, she became the first female to pass the University of Calcutta entrance examination.
Within few years, she became one of the first few female graduates in the country alongside Chandramukhi Basu. When she wanted to study medicine, she was denied admission by University of Calcutta as the university wasn’t allowing female students back then. Dwarkanath Ganguly, Kadambini Ganguly’s husband challenged this patriarchal rule and in 1883 Kadambini Ganguly was the first female to take admission in Calcutta Medical College.
Kadambini Ganguly received a scholarship of two years and in 1886 she was awarded the GBMC award and thus making her the first female to have a degree in Western Medicine in the whole of South Asia.
It is also important to note that during that time people didn’t approve a female getting education and as a result she received strong opposition regarding her academical choices from conservatives even from her neighbourhood and relatives.
Bangabashi, a magazine of that time that was run by the then conservatives also called her a “whore” and this obviously didn’t go well with the Ganguly couple. Dwarkanath Ganguly legally filed a court case against the magazine and this resulted in 6 months jail term for the editor of the magazine.
Kadambini Ganguly also went abroad for her studies and got her further education in Edinburgh College of Medicines for Women. She quickly earned three different diploma degrees. Soon, she became popular in entire South Asia and Europe. Her name became so popular that the then King of Nepal invited her to treat his ailing mother.
Kadambini Ganguly had even advocated for social change in India and especially for women. It was due to her efforts that Bethune College in Kolkata added the Fine Arts course in their college. She was also one of the six female delegates to fifth session in Indian National Congress and even organised Women’s Conference in 1906 in Calcutta.
Authors of that time described Kadambini Ganguly as one of the “greatest” and the “most accomplished woman” of her time. And truly, all of us agree to it. Because of courageous women like her, so many women in the world must have got inspired to achieve their dreams. Kadambini Ganguly will always remain immortal in all her hearts.