Shillong, Sep 20 (IANS) Meghalaya Assembly Speaker Metbah Lyngdoh has urged the state government to install a life-size statue of Mavis Dunn Lyngdoh, who was the first woman cabinet minister in the Indian subcontinent more than 83 years ago.
In a letter to Chief Minister Conrad K. Sangma, he requested the statue be installed in the state Central Library complex in the heart of Shillong.
He said that it would be an honour to Mavis Dunn Lyngdoh if a life-size statue of the great woman was installed and the new generation would know about her.
“On the occasion of the celebrations to mark 75 years of India’s Independence, the nation is remembering the unsung heroes. Mavis Dunn Lyngdoh is no less a hero and her contribution to the health services in the northeastern region deserves recognition,” Metbah Lyngdoh, who is President of the United Democratic Party, a constituent of the Meghalaya Democratic Alliance (MDA) government led by Sangma’s National People’s Party (NPP).
He said that Mavis Dunn Lyngdoh, who was single, was also a role model for women from marginalised communities in independent India for making a mark in public life.
Born on June 4, 1906 in the matrilineal Khasi community, she made the Health Minister at the age of 33 in the Sir Syed Mohammed Saadulla’s government in undivided Assam in 1939 – two years after she was elected to the state Assembly as an independent legislator. Before India’s Independence, Assam comprised much of the northeast region, including Meghalaya and Mizoram, which were carved out of it and were subsequently became full-fledged states.
According to political experts, one of Mavis Dunn Lyngdoh’s significant contributions was to create the posts of nurses in government hospitals for all women who trained in public or private institutions. After losing elections in 1946, she quit politics but continued to be active in social services and visited the UK, the US and other countries for giving lectures on numerous issues.
Mavis Dunn Lyngdoh, who studied in Bethune College in Kolkata and met Mahatma Gandhi while she was there, was also the first woman from Khasi tribal community to practice law and the first woman from the tribal community to drive a car.