Anandi Gopal Joshi
Born into a wealthy family, Anandibai Gopalrao Joshi made history in many ways. Named Yamuna when she was born in Kaylan, India in 1865 she was a member of an orthodox Marathi Brahmin family. As was customary at the time, she was married to a man almost twenty years older than her, Gopalrao Joshi, who renamed her Anandi.
It was very important to her husband that she learn to read and write and he helped her learn English as he saw it as more useful than the traditional Sanskrit. At the age of fourteen Anandibai gave birth to a baby boy, but due to a lack of needed medical intervention the child died ten days later. This was a turning point for the couple as they began to develop a plan for Anandibai to be educated as a doctor in hopes that she could serve the women and children of India.
After corresponding with various missionaries the couple found someone willing to support their efforts to travel to America for her training, but with the stipulation that they convert to Christianity from Hinduism. The Joshis did not accept this offer and continued to seek help from both inside India and abroad. Impressed by Gopalrao’s support of his wife’s efforts an American woman, Theodicia Carpenter offered Anandibai a place to stay in her New Jersey home.
Upon arriving in America, Anandibai was encouraged to apply to the first women’s medical program in the world, the Women’s Medical College of Pennsylvania. She enrolled at the age of 19 and in 1886 she was awarded her medical degree. She returned to India to much celebration and was appointed the physician-in-charge of the female ward of the local Albert Edward Hospital. Sadly, while she was in American she had contracted tuberculosis and succumbed to the disease in February of 1887. While she didn’t have a chance to practice the medicine she had worked so hard to learn she did help pave the way for women in India to pursue their dreams of becoming medical doctors.
Written by Angela Goad