Courtesy: Google Doodle

On July 30, Google Doodle commemorated the birthday of Muthulakshmi Reddi, an educator, lawmaker, surgeon, and reformer who battled against gender inequality.

Born in 1883 in Tamil Nadu, “Reddi was the first female student admitted to prestigious Indian institutions, the first woman to work as a surgeon in a government hospital, and the first female legislator in the history of British India,” Google says on its Doodle website.

As a girl, Reddi resisted her parents’ wish to have her wed at an early age in an arranged marriage.

After winning scholarships and graduating college with honours, Reddi became the first female student at Madras Medical College. She later gave up her medical practice to become a lawmaker, working to raise the legal age of marriage and to protect exploited girls. During her career, she also supported Gandhi in his efforts toward Indian independence.

In 1914 she married a doctor named Sundara Reddi on the condition she would be treated as an equal.

After losing her sister to cancer, Reddi founded the Adayar Cancer Institute. Established in 1954, it is now one of the most respected oncology centers in the world, treating an average of 80,000 patients annually.

In 1956, Reddi was awarded the Padma Bhushan by the Government of India in recognition of her contributions.

Reddi died on July 22, 1968, in Chennai.

Google’s Doodle was drawn by Bangalore-based guest artist Archana Sreenivasan who, despite living close to Madras, admits she didn’t know much about Reddi before being commissioned by Google.

“This Doodle is a celebration of the spirit of belief in oneself and in others,” Sreenivasan told Google.

“Maybe this spirit is something we need now more than ever.”

CORRECTION: A previous headline incorrectly stated Reddi was India’s first female surgeon. Reddi was not the first female surgeon but rather, the first female surgeon to work in a government hospital. The headline has been corrected to reflect this change.