Dr. Anandibhai : The woman who has a crater to her name
Be grateful for challenges because...had there been no difficulties and no thorns in the way, then [each woman and] man would have been in his primitive state and no progress made in civilisation and mental culture.
-Anandibai Gopal Joshi
Dr. Anandibai Gopalrao Joshi, born in the erstwhile Bombay was not only the first marathi woman to have attained higher education qualification but also the first female western medicine practitioner of India, shoulder to Kadambini Gaguly from West Bengal. Anandibai was born on 31st March 1865, her parents named her Yamuna at birth. However, she was married off at the age of nine to a man who was twenty years elder to her.
Anandibai became a mother to her first child at the age of fourteen. She gave to her son, sorrowfully, her son couldn't survive and passed away within ten days of his birth ascribable to lack of medical attention. This incident left a tragic impact on a young mother. Her sons' passing away was a major push to her pursuing medicine.
Gopalrao Joshi, her husband who was an libertarian, supported and impelled her to accomplish her education. He got her to take admission at a missionary school, following which they decided to move to Calcutta to help read and write in both Sanskrit and English. Gopalrao rooted for her education and wanted her to pursue medicine, he wanted her to go ahead and create an identity of her own in a domain which was male dominated. Decision to continue her education was a vexed issue to her community and even more when she prepared to leave for the states to attend the medical program at Woman’s Medical College of Pennsylvania and get her two-year degree in western medicine, she addressed her community stating her ardent inclination towards encouraging women in the medical sector and come forward as the first woman.
(Image courtesy : Library of Congress Blogs)
'Obstetrics Among the Aryan Hindoos', the title of her thesis. An MD in obstetrics at the age of twenty one, she started her medical program at the age of nineteen in 1883. Anandibai soon realised she was vulnerable and unequipped to the foreign conditions, leading her to come down with tuberculosis. This led to her return to the motherland in 1886. Her health deteriorated further. February 1887, she passed away before her 22nd birth anniversary. The country came together to grief for her demise at such a young age.
A social reformer and a modernizer in her true spirit, Dr. Anandibai GopalRao Joshi, left behind a legacy for women. The woman who did not let her circumstances hold her back, went on to be a trailblazer. To honor her contribution to medicine, the Government of Maharashtra announced a scholarship program for women. A crater on planet Venus has been named 'Joshee', as a tribute. Anandibai remains a role model for numerous little dreamers who aspire to serve the nation.