Born: 31 March 1865
More about her: Anandi Bai Gopalrao Joshi was one of the rarest Indian women who dedicated her life to studying medicine. She was the first female of Indian origin to study and graduate with a degree in medicine in the United States.
Born into an orthodox Hindu family as Yamuna, she was married off early at the age of just nine years to Gopal Rao Joshi, who was a widower and was about twenty years elder than her. After marriage, her husband renamed her as Anandi. At the age of fourteen, she delivered a baby boy, who lived only for ten days due to unavailability of proper medical care. This setback was like a turning point in her life. This motivated her to study medicine and her husband supported her wholeheartedly. In times, when women were just considered for household work, supporting one’s wife to go for higher education was rare!
In 1880, he sent a letter to Royal Wilder, a well-known American missionary, stating Anandibai’s interest in studying medicine in the United States, and inquiring about a suitable post in the US for himself. Wilder published the correspondence in his Princeton’s Missionary Review. Theodicia Carpenter, a resident of Roselle, New Jersey, happened to read it while waiting to see her dentist. Anandi’s desire to study medicine, and Gopalrao’s support for his wife impressed her, and she wrote to them offering Anandibai accommodation in America. In 1883, despite bad suffering from health conditions, Anandi Gopal Rao Joshi, set out for a long journey on a ship to the distant land of America to pursue education in medical sciences. She faced severe resistance from the orthodox Hindu society at that point in time. She and her husband were also asked to change their religion in to christianity, but the couple faced all odds but did not change any of their decisions.
In New York, Theodicia Carpenter received her in June 1883. Anandi Joshi wrote to the Women’s Medical College of Pennsylvania, asking to be admitted to their medical program, (which was the second women’s medical program in the world). Rachel Bodley, the dean of the college, enrolled her. Anandi Joshi began her medical education at age 19. she graduated with an MD on 11 March 1886; the topic of her thesis was “Obstetrics among the Aryan Hindoos”.On her graduation, Queen Victoria sent her a congratulatory message. But this achievement was not easy for her. She constantly struggled with declining health due to cold weather and foriegn diet. She contracted tuberculosis.
In late 1886, Anandi Joshi returned to India, receiving a hero’s welcome. The princely state of Kolhapur appointed her as the physician-in-charge of the female ward of the local Albert Edward Hospital.
Anandi Joshi died early the next year on 26 February 1887 before turning 22. Her death was mourned throughout India.
My one-line takeaway: The way we look at adversities in our life can actually be a very important deciding factor as to how our future life will pan out.
PS: I have planned to take up non-fiction this year as my theme for A2Z challenge, where every day in the month of April I will be writing about women in the stream of science and their contributions. This main objective is to draw inspiration and share information about such great lives who did it despite all difficulties in their life.
I’m participating in #BlogchatterA2Z and hyperlink to https://www.theblogchatter.com