Dr. Reddi worked for the abolition of Devadasi, and raising age of consent for marriage of girls from 16 to 21. In 1954, she opened the Cancer Institute in Chennai and in 1956 was awarded the Padma Bhushan; her name is written in golden words during India’s Independence struggle
Born to a devdasi, her father was outcast from the community who was her support system towards education. A rebel that she was she truly knew her worth and possibly the legacy she would create through her work in women empowerment & gender equality. She refused marriage as an option and instead choose education. She went ahead and sought education in the Maharajah College, then only a boys institution. She fought against the casteist practices of devdasi performances in public and private places. For further supporting the community of Devadasis – she started a home which now can be probably called the country’s first shelter homes for victims of sexual assault – in her own home in Adyar.
Her sister’s early loss of life was one of Dr. Reddi’s biggest personal and professional drive to set up the Adayar Cancer Institute in 1954.
After education and medicine, she turned to administration and became the first woman to become the Deputy President the Madras Presidency Council. The 1947 Madras Devdasi Bill owed much to her work as part of the Council, though she resigned from it in protest after the arrest of Mahatma Gandhi following the Dandi March in 1930.
Here is Dr. Reddi herself on the role of women in an article published in the August 15, 1947 Independence Day edition of The Hindu:
“Indian women have a great role to play in the modern world, with its chaos and rumblings of another war. With their background of philosophy and religion, with their apprenticeship under Gandhian leadership, with the sense of motherhood strong in them they can be and should be the ambassadors of love, peace and unity. It is the Gandhian concept of non-violence alone that can save the world from a cataclysm. And it is the women of India alone who can carry the message best so that the world may come together in unity and peace.”
The Government of Tamil Nadu announced on Monday that government hospitals in the State will celebrate her birth anniversary as ‘Hospital Day’ every year.
On her 133rd birth anniversary, Google Doodle celebrates Dr. Reddi who devoted her life to public health and fought the battle against gender inequality.
Credits – Google Doodle