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There are extraordinary people whose names and achievements endure throughout Indian history. Anandibai Gopalrao Joshi lived from March 31, 1865, to February 26, 1887. She was the first Indian woman to acquire a medical degree in Western medicine. She was also the first woman in India’s former Bombay presidency to spend two years studying for a Western medicine degree in the US. The names Anandibai Joshi and Anandi Gopal Joshi also go for her after she got married.
Anandibai Gopalrao Joshi is a great pioneer who broke down social barriers and symbolized tenacity and grit. Today, let’s look into the inspirational life of Anandibai Gopalrao Joshi, the first female doctor and also a physician in India who made a lasting impact on the country’s medical environment.
Early life and challenges
Anandibai Gopalrao Joshi was born in 1865, in Kalyan, Maharashtra. She was previously referred to as Yamuna and had to deal with the social mores of her period as she was raised in a Marathi Chitpavan Brahmin family. Anandi Gopal Joshi’s family served as landlords for a long time throughout the British Raj. However, when Yanuma (Anandi Gopal Joshi) was still young, her family suffered a difficult financial period due to excessive taxes levied by the British and losses accrued over the years.
Because of her mother’s persuasion, she married off at an early age to Gopalrao Joshi, a widower considerably older than her. Yamuna’s husband gave her the name “Anandi” when they got married. Gopalrao Joshi was a progressive who supported women’s education when it was uncommon.
In Maharashtra, women’s education was strongly prohibited, and gender roles were rigorously established. Anandibai showed great hunger for knowledge from a young age, suffering intense social pressure and few options.
Reason Anandibai Joshi chose medicine
Tragically, Anandi gave birth to a boy when she was fourteen, losing him after only ten days due to inadequate medical care. Anandi’s passion for pursuing a medical profession was ignited by this tragic incident, which turned out to be a turning point in her life. Gopalrao tried unsuccessfully to enroll Anandi in missionary schools in their quest to give her educational chances. They eventually shifted to Calcutta, where Anandi started her educational career by devoting herself to studying English and Sanskrit.
A quest for education
Anandibai Gopalrao Joshi started a rigorous pursuit of education because she was determined to follow her aspirations of becoming a doctor. Gopalrao Joshi, her progressive husband, who valued women’s empowerment via education, supported her in 1880. Anandibai focused her sights on an unusual route with his support.
Anandi Joshi’s husband wrote to an American missionary to inquire about the possibility of her pursuing further schooling there. He even considered looking for a suitable career to enable him to be with her. Anandi was shifted to Serampore in West Bengal (then the province of Bengal) in 1883, but Gopalrao Joshi was adamant and convinced her to come to the United States alone. He advised her to pursue further education so that she may be an example for all Indian women worldwide.
The Women’s Medical College of Pennsylvania accepted Anandi Gopal Joshi after she applied. She cruised from Calcutta to New York on a ship. She was nineteen years old when she started her medical education. She went through lots of hardships post her arrival to the United States, especially with her health.
Anandibai had to overcome many challenges on her travels. She ran into opposition from her close family and the larger community, who thought her objectives were unimaginable for a woman. But her unyielding resolve and unwavering spirit carried her forward.
Her health had already suffered from her time in India. It kept getting worse when she was in America due to the chilly climate and the strange food. She even had tuberculosis later on. She was still determined to complete her medical degree despite all of that. She gained much media attention in India because her journey had been so inspirational.
Queen Victoria, then the Queen of England and Empress of India, congratulated her on her graduation. She had made history by being the first woman of Indian descent to study medicine in the country and earn a degree in it. Anandi Gopal Joshi inspired Many generations of women to pursue higher educational opportunities.
Milestones in medical education
Through her pioneering travels, Anandibai Gopalrao Joshi arrived in the United States and joined the Women’s Medical College of Pennsylvania in 1883. She overcame linguistic, academic, and cultural obstacles to become the first Indian woman to receive a medical degree.
Her return to India
She was welcomed warmly upon her return to India in 1886 and given the position of physician-in-charge in the Albert Edward Hospital in Kolhapur, a princely state at the time.
Legacy and impact
Anandibai’s achievements extended beyond her own life. She disproved gender norms and promoted women’s empowerment, opening the door for subsequent generations of Indian women to opt for medical careers. Her extraordinary accomplishment reverberated nationwide, motivating countless others to dream big and break down social barriers.
The end of the legend
Before turning 22 in Pune, Anandibai died from TB early the following year, on February 26, 1887. She had been worn down and weak for years before her death. She received medicine from America, but it had little effect, so she continued studying medicine till her death. India was in mourning upon her passing.
She achieved prominence despite having only two to three months of medical experience due to her unwavering dedication and hard work in being the first Indian woman to study western medicine and serving as an example for all those who followed after her.
The life of Anandibai Gopalrao Joshi is a tribute to the strength of perseverance, will, and unflinching self-belief. Her pioneering spirit helped pave the way for Indian women to pursue medical careers, forever altering the nation’s healthcare system. The legacy of Anandibai serves as an example that with passion and dedication, anyone can succeed despite all challenges and that ambitions have no bounds.
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