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KADAMBINI GANGULY (1861–1923)


Kadambini was the first Indian woman to acquire a Bachelor of Arts degree, as well as the first woman to graduate in the field of medicine (see also Anandibai Joshi) from the Bengal Medical College. After graduation she went to England for postgraduate study and qualified as an LRCP (Edinburgh) LRCS (Glasgow) and DFPS (Dublin). She practised at the Lady Dufferin Victoria Hospital For Women in Kolkata during the late nineteenth century.

Born in East Bengal, Kadambini was encouraged by her father to pursue higher studies. She fulfilled his dream by becoming the first successful woman candidate in the BA examination of the University of Calcutta. She then qualified as a doctor in the MBBS examination, and served for five years at the Eden Hospital before going to London. After completing her studies in Britain she returned to India and in May 1883 married Dwarkanath Ganguly, a leader of the Sadharan Brahmo Samaj. Dwarkanath and Kadambini both worked for the emancipation of women and to further the cause of widow remarriage. Kadambini encouraged vocational training for cottage industries in schools for girls and tried to make the young women of Bengal self-reliant.

Kadambini became the secretary of the Bengal Ladies Association. Having spoken from the Congress platform in 1889, in 1906 she was one of the organisers of the Women’s Conference held in Kolkata to coincide with the session of the Indian National Congress. In 1908 she organised and presided over a meeting in Kolkata to express sympathy with Gandhi’s satyagraha workers in South Africa. She started an association and collected money to help the workers in the Transvaal. Kadambini condemned the exploitation of labourers in coalmines and in tea plantation areas, and in 1922 she went to different parts of Bihar and Orissa to probe the conditions of women workers on behalf of an enquiry commission set up by the Government.
 
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