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Budapest square named after Hungary’s heroic first female doctor

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  • We Love Budapest

9/16/2020 10:44 AM

A square by Semmelweis medical university has been named after the first female doctor in Hungary. Vilma Hugonnai was a lifelong advocate of women’s rights and equality.

The small square bearing the name of the first female doctor in Hungary can be found at the junction of Üllői út and Korányi Sándor utca. The sign was unveiled by District VIII mayor András Pikó, with a descendant of Vilma Hugonnai, András Lászlóné Radványi, among those giving a speech. 

Photo: Kovács Attila/Semmelweis Egyetem

“The square was inaugurated in the spirit of celebrating Vilma Hugonnai’s exemplary achievements,” said a spokesman for Józsefváros, District VIII, “and her fight for women’s equality”.

Photo: Nagy Dániel - Józsefvárosi Újság

Vilma Hugonnai was born in 1847, to a noble family in District XXII’s Nagytétény area. She began her primary education at a girls’ only school in Pest, and married early on in her life, to landowner György Szilassy. She was already a wife and mother when she discovered that women were accepted to the medical school of Zürich University, where she enrolled in 1872. As she received no financial support from home, she spent her seven years as a student in extremely modest circumstances, until becoming a doctor. 

Photo: Nagy Dániel - Józsefvárosi Újság

She returned to Hungary in 1880, but her degree certificate was not approved here. After graduating as a midwife as well, she worked within this field for years, until a royal amendment of law finally allowed her degree to be recognised, resulting in her inauguration as a doctor in 1897. She was one of the founders of Hungary’s national women’s education association (Országos Nőképző Egyesület), and also led the Hungarian midwifery association (Magyar Bábaegyesület).

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