In a society where widows were expected to live a life of isolation and mourning, an 18-year-old woman named Anandi Gopal Joshi refused to be held back by tradition. Born in Maharashtra, India in 1865, Anandi was married off at the young age of nine to a widower who was 20 years her senior. Despite facing numerous obstacles throughout her life, Anandi remained steadfast in her determination to pursue an education and become India’s first female engineer.
Anandi’s husband, Gopalrao Joshi, was a progressive man who encouraged her to study and learn. He taught her how to read and write, and inspired her to pursue higher education. Unfortunately, he passed away when Anandi was just 14 years old, leaving her a widow at a very young age. Despite this setback, Anandi remained determined to pursue her education and fulfill her dreams.
At the age of 18, Anandi wrote a letter to a prominent American missionary, pleading with him to help her gain admission to a medical school in the United States. The missionary was impressed with Anandi’s passion and drive, and he helped her enroll in the Women’s Medical College of Pennsylvania. Anandi set sail for America in 1883, becoming the first Indian woman to travel overseas.
Anandi faced numerous challenges in America, including a language barrier and cultural differences. Nevertheless, she remained focused on her studies and graduated with a degree in medicine in 1886. Upon returning to India, she was appointed as the physician-in-charge of the women’s ward at Albert Edward Hospital in Kolhapur.
Anandi’s determination and perseverance paved the way for future generations of women to pursue higher education and break down societal barriers. Her legacy serves as an inspiration to young women around the world, encouraging them to pursue their dreams and refuse to be held back by tradition or societal norms.