The Internet search engine “Google” pays tribute, on this Saturday, March 27, to the Tunisian, Tawhida Ben Cheikh, the first female doctor in the Maghreb.
By dedicating a doodle of the day on her logo to her, Google is celebrating both a pioneer woman in her field (medicine) but also a press editor and a social activist. “A feminist pioneer both in and outside the medical field,” argues the research giant.
Ben Cheikh has helped transform Tunisian medicine by providing women and girls with better access to modern health care. In March 2020, the Tunisian government issued a new 10 dinar note in her image, the first banknote in the world to represent a female doctor.
Born January 2, 1909 in Tunis still under French protectorate, Tawhida Ben Cheikh, supported by her mother, was the first Tunisian woman to obtain a high school diploma. Pushing further the limits of her freedom, she went to Paris to study medicine, where in 1936, at the age of 27, she obtained her diploma as a gynecologist.
On his return to Tunis, Ben Cheikh made history by opening his own free practice medical practice, specializing in gynecology and obstetrics. She then became head of the maternity department at the city’s Charles-Nicolle hospital in 1955.
In the 1970s, she established the country’s first family planning clinic and tirelessly contributed to several women’s organizations. She also founded “Leïla”, Tunisia’s first French-speaking women’s magazine.
She died on December 5, 2010.