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Women of Parkland: Dr. Yasmine David

March 2, 2020 Great People

Dr. Yasmine David is one of many remarkable women living in our Parkland communities. A trailblazer for women in medicine in the 1960s, she continues to share her story and empower the women around her to this day.

Dr. David was born and raised in Bombay, India, now Mumbai. She grew up in a family of physicians and surrounded by inspiring women including her mother who was a physician and her aunt who was the first Muslim woman doctor in all of India. Growing up in a family full of strong women, Dr. David knew she could do anything she set her mind to.

After completing medical school in India, she made a new beginning in 1963 by moving to North America with her husband. They married in Chicago and went on to have four children.

When their family relocated to Halifax, Dr. David began her pediatric residency at the IWK under Dr. Richard Goldbloom. She later worked as a pediatrician in the outpatient department while also running the Well Baby Clinic and was active in teaching medical students and residents at Dalhousie University.

“Being a woman in medicine was difficult back then. Most people thought ‘oh you’re a female, you’re not going to be smart’. You really had to prove your worth.”

Her Indian heritage has always been an important aspect of her life and work. When she left India for North America, her father encouraged her to be true to who she was and continue her traditions in her new home. Dr. David honoured her heritage by wearing traditional Indian clothing when working at the IWK Health Centre.

As an Indian woman practicing medicine in the 1960s, Dr. David was criticized for not conforming to their vision of what a doctor should look like. When questioned about her decision to wear a traditional sari, she would respond, “well, don’t you wear pants? It’s the same thing.”

The competitive field of medicine was especially difficult for women when she began her career. Not only was she a woman who practiced medicine in traditional Indian clothing, she also wanted to work part-time so she could spend time with her family. At the time, the idea of a doctor working part-time was practically unprecedented!

Dr. David proved that women do not need to sacrifice their family life to have a successful career in medicine. She is an inspiration to many, including her four children, Chamine, Farah, Saira and Ariz.

One of her daughters, Dr. Farah Kapur, had this to say: “I wanted to work part-time from day one of medical school because that’s what my mother always did, and I really admired that. I think it’s easier for me because people like my mother showed the world that it is okay to take time from work to spend with family. She truly was an inspiration.”

When asked what advice she would give the next generation of women, Dr. David responded, “I think they should do what they want to do, not what society or someone else tells them to do.”

Dr. David retired in 2005 and spends her days enjoying time with family and friends, texting and phoning her grandchildren and taking in all the activities at Parkland at the Gardens.