Discover the Trailblazing Legacy of India’s First Woman Doctor, Anandibai Gopal Joshi
Anandibai Gopal Joshi was India’s first woman doctor and a trailblazer in the truest sense. She was the first female of Indian origin to study and graduate with a degree in medicine in the United States.
She received a congratulatory message from Queen Victoria to have a crater on Venus named after her. Today, Anandibai Joshi is celebrated by millions around the world.
Let’s take a look at her early life
Back in 19th century Maharashtra life was hard. Society was rather rigid and difficult, so much so to its women.
The young girl Yamuna had no inkling of a trailblazer she was destined to be. At the tender age of 9 in 1874, she was married to Gopalrao Joshi, who later gave her the name Anandi. Gopalrao was determined to be a social reformer, he decided that reform would begin at home, with his young wife, Anandi.
Tragedy struck the family with the death of their first child, who only lived to be a week old. Anandibai was a mere 14-years-old at the time of the birth. The loss of her child made her resolute in becoming a doctor.
In 1883, Anandibai set sail for America on a steamer called ‘The City of Calcutta’. Before her departure, she made a speech in English assuring everyone that she would not abandon her faith when she lived abroad, that she was going for a purpose and that she would leave and return a Hindu.
Anandibai was accepted by the Women’s Medical College in Pennsylvania, and she also secured a scholarship there.
An Indian in America
Anandibai Joshi made sure to lead a traditional Maharashtrian lifestyle on alien land. She continued to dress in a nine-yard sari and ate only vegetarian food.
However, apart from her coursework and adjusting to life in America, she had to deal with her deteriorating health. Despite all the odds, on March 11th 1886, she graduated, having successfully written a dissertation on ‘Obstetrics among Hindu Aryans’, becoming the first Indian woman to ever be qualified as a doctor. Her joy had no bounds. Gopalrao too was tremendously proud of his young wife.
Anandibai had already been offered a position as a doctor at the Albert Edward Hospital in Kolhapur as the physician in charge of the female ward. She was very keen to get back home and start practising medicine.
Gopalrao had also joined Anandibai in America prior to her graduation. They set sail for India together in October 1886. Upon their return, they were welcomed with a sea of support for Anandibai’s success. Admiration had spread for India’s first woman doctor. Sadly, the lengthy sea crossing added to Anandibai’s health problems. She died on the 26th of February, 1887 just before her 22nd birthday.
Her last words were “I did all that I could.” and indeed, no one could have asked more of her.
An ode to Anandibai Joshi
an inquisitive mind, who was against slavery and hated the idea of being dependent. Anandibai could read and speak in seven languages: Marathi, her native tongue; Hindoosthani, Bengali; Gujarati; Canari, Sanskrit; and English. For her, happiness was an affirmation of her faith in God, and irresponsible behavior made her unhappy. The young girl with big dreams and a zeal to bring about a change is gone too soon, but only after she opened up the possibility of pursuing medical sciences as a career for millions of other Indian women.
Source: Maharshtra Unlimited, Vol 2, Issue 3
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