Feminization and Marginalization? Women Ayurvedic Doctors and Modernizing Health Care in Nepal


The important diversity of indigenous medical systems around the world suggests that gender issues, well understood for Western science, may differ in significant ways for non-Western science practices and are an important component in understanding how social dimensions of women’s health care are being transformed by global biomedicine. Based on ethnographic research conducted with formally trained women Ayurvedic doctors in Nepal, I identify important features of medical knowledge and practice beneficial to women patients, and I discuss these features as potentially transformed by modernizing health care development. The article explores the indirect link between Ayurveda’s feminization and its marginalization, in relation to modern biomedicine, which may evolve to become more direct and consequential for women’s health in the country.