Dr. Muthulakshmi Reddi: India’s first woman legislator

Dr. Muthulakshmi Reddi known for many firsts to her name. The famous phrase ‘Jack of all, master on none’ is seems meaningless in front of her because she left a mark in the fields of medicine, education, law and many more. She spends her entire life to the benefit of public health and the battle against gender inequality.

Known for: Social Reformer, Women’s Rights Activist and Writer


First Indian girl student in the Department of Surgery at Madras Medical College

First women doctors in India in 1912

First woman house surgeon in the Government Maternity Hospital, Madras

First woman member (and vice president) of the Madras Legislative Council — making her the first woman legislator in India

• Founder-president of the Women’s Indian Association (WIA)

• First alderwoman of the Madras Corporation

• Conferred Padma Bhushan in 1956

 She was born in the princely state of Pudukkottai of Tamil Nadu.

Born on: 30 July 1886

Contribution in Social Reforms

Established the minimum age for marriage to 21 for boys and 16 for girls

Passed a bill to prevent the immoral trafficking of women and children in brothels

• Abolished the Devadasi system in Tamil Nadu

Opened hostels for Muslim girls

Gave out scholarships for Harijan girls

• Involved in setting up toilets for men and women

• Started a home called Avvai, for destitute women

Rallied against the social abuses faced by women

• An active participant in the freedom struggle she gave up her position as a legislator in the British government, during the Quit India movement.

• Started the Cancer Relief Fund, which is now an all India Institute for cancer research and treatment

Died on: 22 July 1968 (aged 81)

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