A Tribute to Womanhood

Welcome to "I Am Woman"...a tribute to all those women who had the courage and perseverance to stand up and fight for their rights. Thanks to those who came before us we enjoy a freedom unknown to women not too long ago. But, sadly, in many parts of the world, women continue to be repressed. In fact, even in this country there are women living today under the threat of violence...completely controlled by a violent spouse. Some may make it; others won't. Hopefully, one day ALL women will be free. May that day come soon.


Agnodice: How One Woman Can Make a Difference

 (She is credited with being the world's first female gynecologist.)

Agnodice (ca 400 BC) is the name of the earliest midwife mentioned among the Greeks.  She native of Athens where  it was forbidden by law for a woman or a slave to study or practice medicine.  So, she cut off her hair, donned men's clothing,  and managed to gain an education by disguising herself as a man. Agnodice, concerned over the numbers of women dying or undergoing extreme and unnecessary risk or protracted pain in childbirth because they dreaded calling for medical assistance,  devoted herself chiefly to the study of   midwifery and the diseases of women.  

When she completed her training and went into practice she retained male attire, but made known her sex to her patients, and as word of Agnodice spread among the women in the community, the male doctors found their services refused by the women.  In fact, her engagements became so numerous that the male practitioners became enraged, and, unaware if gender,  brought the young midwife before the council under a charge of seducing women.  Agnodice was forced to declare her sex by lifting her tunic in front of the judges in order to avoid the death penalty for corrupting women.  The male doctors now shifted their complaints to the fact that she had broken the law that forbade women to practice medicine...

...but the doctor's own wives appeared in court and testified in her defense. They boldly and loudly appealed to the judge's feelings and interests,  and even threatened to die with Agnodice if they tried to execute her.  Bowing to the women's pressure, the men not only released Agnodice, but changed the law as well.  After that, any freeborn Athenian woman could become a physician as long as she only treated women patients. 


  1. When I read stories like this I can't help but think about how far we've come as women. I only hope that one day, gays and lesbians will read stories about what is going on now and feel the same way.

  2. Oh, what we women have to go through to get the laws changed.... Great story Mary, thanks.