Today’s Women’s History Month post is about Anandibai Joshee (1865-1887), a Hindu born in India, loved learning so much that she was willing to defy her community. She was willing to be spit upon, have rocks thrown at her and obscenities screamed at her while she attended classes or visited hospitals.
At the age of 14, when her 10-day-old baby died, she vowed she would become a doctor. But it was 1879, and the only place possible for a woman to get a medical education was in the United States. She tried to educating herself, but she encountered fierce resistance. Joshee gave a speech to her town that she would travel to the U.S. to get her medical degree and return home to open a college for women to practice medicine. She told the assembly that “I do not fear excommunication in the least….I will go as a Hindu, and come back to live as a Hindu.”
The town helped fund her education, and although she left with the blessing of her husband, it was “against the combined opposition of my friends and caste.”
Joshee flourished at medical school and graduated in 1886. Her thesis, “Obstetrics Among the Aryan Hindoos,” even was read by Queen Victoria.
Sadly she had contracted tuberculosis when she had lived in Calcutta. She died shortly after she returned to India.
Want more information? Huffington Post has an article “Meet The Three Female Medical Students Who Destroyed Gender Norms A Century Ago.”
Ironically, another webpage written from an Indian perspective gives much credit to Joshee’s husband for her achievements, like her husband beat her for not studying. I doubt any woman would go halfway across the globe to get a medical degree unless she was self-motivated.
Thanks to the Sam Maggs and her great book Wonder Women.