Ogino Ginko was born on March the 3rd 1851 in Kumagaya, Saitama, Japan. Throughout her early life, Japan was urged to “Westernize” (Maggs) and by the 1870’s the countries modernisation which included “compulsory education for all children” (Maggs). Only boys were permitted to progress to middle school and universities so unless women wished to pursue careers in teaching or midwifery,

they could not continue any further than primary education. Women were still extremely oppressed, and their job was primarily to run the home. Ginko was married at 16 to a man her family “considered a good match” (Maggs) but soon divorced after he gave Ginko a sexually transmitted disease. What she endured throughout her “two years of medical visits” (Maggs) inspired her to become a doctor and she “dreamed of a country where women would never have to endure the same pain” (Maggs) or misery. Women were often humiliated or uncomfortable when visiting gynaecologist’s considering they were all men and avoided visiting even when pregnant “out of embarrassment about their bodies” (Maggs).

With the help of “feminist activist Shimoda Utaku” and also, the “president of the Red Cross Society” (Maggs) Ishiguro Tadanori, Ginko managed to attend “a private school at Koju(doublecheck) Hospital” (Maggs) where she was meant with plenty of abuse and challenges. Furthermore, she supported herself financially considering her family were not happy with her choices. After also struggling to take two examinations that would give her a licence to practice medicine, she finally managed to succeed by convincing the “director of the national hygiene Bureau” (Maggs) to allow her to take the examinations. He was so impressed by her research and determination “he decided that, from 1884 on, women would be allowed to take the National Physician Licensing Examination” (Maggs). Following this, Ginko opened her own hospital, “Ogino Hospital” (Maggs) which specialised in gynaecology and obstetrics then married her second husband and continued north where she helped countless women. She also became part “of the newly formed Tokyo Women’s Reform Society” who opposed oppressive traditions “as women remaining silent in front of men” (Maggs) and further extremities. Ginko also wrote about her experience and women’s enlightenment in the journal “Jogaku Zasshi” (Maggs) and ultimately paved the way for women in Japan both in medicine and in lifestyle.

References:

Maggs, Sam, and Sophia Foster-Dimino. Wonder Women: 25 Innovators, Inventors, and Trailblazers Who Changed History. Quirk Books, 2016.

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