Mavis Dunn Lyngdoh (1906-1962) was an Indian politician. She became the first woman Cabinet Minister in the Indian subcontinent when she joined Muhammed Saadulah’s government in Assam in 1939. She was also the first woman from the Khasi tribe to become an MLA in the first undivided Assam Legislative Assembly in 1937. She died in 1962 at the age of 56. Meghalaya Monitor
Mavis Patricia Dunn Mawlong was born on Monday, 4 June 1906 (age 56 years; at the time of death) in Mairang, province of Eastern Bengal and Assam, British India (now Meghalaya, India). Mavis joined the Welsh Mission Girls’ High School of Shillong, where she received her early education. In 1917, she enrolled at the Calcutta Girls’ Free School following which she enrolled at the St. Thomas School, Calcutta. After completing her matriculation at Calcutta University as a private student in 1922, Mavis enrolled at the Diocesan College, where she earned a diploma in Intermediate Course of Arts in 1924 and a Bachelor of Arts degree with distinction in 1927. In 1930, she enrolled at Calcutta University, where she pursued a bachelor’s degree in teaching following which she earned a bachelor’s degree in law in 1933. The Meghalayan
Mavis Dunn Lyngdoh’s uncle, Edward W. Dunn, was a Member of the Order of the British Empire.
Parents & Siblings
Her father’s name was H Dunn. Her mother, Ka Helibon Lyngdoh (or Kong Helibon Mawlong), was a successful businesswoman. She had two sisters.
Husband & Children
Mavis Dunn Lyngdoh’s career as a politician began in 1937 when she contested the Indian provincial elections from the Shillong constituency and won a seat in the Assam Legislative Assembly as an independent candidate. In 1939, Mavis was invited to join Sir Syed Muhammad Saadulla’s government in Assam. Later, she became a cabinet minister in Saadulla’s government, becoming India’s first woman to be made a cabinet minister. Northeast Now During an interview, the general secretary of the Mawlong clan, A S Mawlong, said,
She was elevated as a minister in the Assam Province in 1939. So, we can say that in the whole of the North East, she was the first woman minister, and second to Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit in the country who became the first lady minister in pre-independent India in 1937.”
From 1939 to 1945, Mavis Dunn Lyngdoh served as the health minister of Assam. As a minister of health, she not only established the Assam Red Cross Society (ARCS) but also passed a resolution that allowed nurses trained in private nursing colleges to get employment at government hospitals. She also held portfolios of the Registration, Industries, and Cooperative departments. Mavis ended her political career after getting defeated in the 1946 provincial elections. After independence, Mavis Dunn Lyngdoh served as a distinguished member of the Assam state government’s Advisory Council for the functioning of the District Councils. After she retired from politics, she gave lectures at various educational institutes in the US and UK.
- Mavis Dunn Lyngdoh became the first woman from Meghalaya to qualify for practising law. The Hindu
- Mavis Dunn Lyngdoh was a part of a committee that negotiated with the British and the Indian government in 1946 for the formation of the Federation of Khasi States.
- According to several sources, after India amalgamated Meghalaya into itself, Mavis Dunn Lyngdoh met Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel in Bombay to explain the functioning of the chiefdoms in Meghalaya to protect the chiefdoms from being demolished like other princely states.
- In 2004, the Meghalayan government named a 700-m stretch of road connecting Mawkhar to Motphran and Iewduh (or Bara Bazaar) in Shillong, is named after Mavis Dunn Mawlong
- In 2022, Metbah Lyngdoh, the speaker of the Meghalaya Legislative Assembly, wrote a letter to Chief Minister Conrad Kongkal Sangma, urging him to honour Mavis Dunn Lyngdoh by erecting a statue in her memory. In his letter to the Chief Minister, he wrote,
The nation is remembering all the unsung heroes during the celebrations to mark the 75 years of the independence. Mavis Dunn Lyngdoh is no less than a hero and her contribution to the health sector in the north eastern region deserves recognition. She was also a role model for women from the marginalised communities in independent India and for making a mark in the public life. I would like to request the government to consider putting a full size statue of Late Mavis Dunn Lyngdoh, on the premises of the State Central Library and honour her achievement and service to our people.”
- Hamlet Bareh wrote a book on her published in 1989.