Anandi Gopal Joshi was just a teenager when she lost her husband at the age of 18. In the 19th century, being a widow in India was considered a curse, and society ostracized women who were unfortunate enough to lose their husbands. However, Anandi refused to succumb to societal norms of isolation and instead paved her way to become India’s first female engineer.
In this article, we will explore Anandi’s incredible journey, her struggles, and how she overcame all the odds to become a role model for millions of women across the world.
Early Life of Anandi Gopal Joshi
Anandi was born on March 31, 1865, in Maharashtra, India. Her father was a postal clerk, and her mother belonged to an orthodox Brahmin family. Despite being from a conservative family, Anandi’s mother believed in education and ensured that her daughter received a proper education.
At the age of nine, Anandi was married to Gopalrao Joshi, who was 20 years older than her. Her husband was a progressive thinker who encouraged her to study and pursue her dreams.
The Loss of Her Husband and Struggles
Anandi’s life took a drastic turn when she lost her husband to tuberculosis just ten years after their marriage. According to Indian customs, widows were expected to live a life of isolation and were not allowed to remarry. But Anandi refused to succumb to societal norms and decided to pursue her education.
She faced several obstacles in her journey, including the lack of support from her family and society. But with sheer determination and hard work, she completed her high school education in just two years and became the first Indian woman to pass the Matriculation exam.
Journey to America
Anandi’s dream was to become a doctor and serve her community. But at that time, there were no medical colleges in India that admitted women. However, Anandi was not ready to give up on her dream. With the help of her friends and family, she wrote a letter to a well-known American missionary, Rachel Bodley, who was also a supporter of women’s education.
Impressed with Anandi’s determination and grit, Rachel Bodley decided to sponsor her education in the United States. In 1883, Anandi sailed to America, becoming the first Indian woman to travel overseas.
The Struggles in America
Anandi’s journey to America was not easy. She faced several obstacles, including culture shock, homesickness, and the language barrier. But she did not give up and continued to work hard towards her dream.
In 1886, Anandi became the first Indian woman to graduate with a degree in medicine from the Women’s Medical College of Pennsylvania. However, her happiness was short-lived as she contracted tuberculosis, which led to her untimely death in 1887, just a month after her graduation.
Legacy of Anandi Gopal Joshi
Anandi Gopal Joshi’s story is an inspiration to millions of women across the world. She refused to succumb to the societal norms of isolation and paved the way for women to pursue education and their dreams.
Her legacy continues to inspire generations of women who face societal barriers and strive to break them. In her memory, the Government of Maharashtra named a hospital in