Happy 150th Birthday, Anandibai Joshi! Born on this day in Kalyan near Mumbai, she was the first Indian woman to get a Western medicine degree in 1886.
She was born in 1865 in an extremely orthodox Brahmin family in Maharashtra. As a nine year old girl she was married off to a widower who was almost thrice her age. However, he appears to have been a more forward thinking fellow than his peers at this time (and aside from the deeply problematic custom of child bridehood): Gopalrao Joshi was a postal clerk. When his wife at age fourteen expressed she wanted to study medicine he supported her. It seems her drive to do so came after their first child died, ten days after birth, because proper medical resources were not available.
This was a time when women’s education wasn’t thought of or if it was, sneered at. Gopalrao seems to have been an exception to the rule: he married Anandi specifically on the condition that his wife be educated, whether her family had traditional misgivings or not.
She sadly died at the very young age of twenty-one, yet she opened the gates for many young women in India who wanted to move beyond solely dedicating their lives to a domestic status.