There is an old saying, a man with dreams needs a woman with a vision. Similarly, a woman with dreams and vision can dare to change the system with just a little push and support from society.
History has so many examples where women had dared to change society’s beliefs and thoughts right from pre-independence to the post-independence era. One such woman is Anandibai Joshi, the first women doctor in south Asia in the late 1880s. She was a doctor in medicine, studied from America. Her thesis holds value in both allopathy medicine and Ayurveda medicine. She was even congratulated by Queen Victoria on her convocation.
The path from a wife to a doctor was not easy for Anandibai. Married at the age of 9 to a 20-year elder widower Gopal Rao. However, her husband, who was a strong believer in women’s education, had supported her throughout. Gopal Rao was the strong pillar who not only fought with the society’s prejudices but also did everything he could that include approaching the missionaries to the viceroy or British authorities.
Gopal Rao was not only Anandibai’s husband but also her mentor who made her believe that she can bring changes in society’s thoughts about women education.
Anandibai lost a child at the age of 14, which was the turning point in her life. This incident made her adamant about the need of becoming a doctor at that point in time when medical facilities were disastrous.
Going against the societal rules was not at all easy for Anandibai and her husband but their strong determination led them to break all the shambles. She was the first woman from the erstwhile Bombay presidency of India to study and graduate with a two-year degree in western medicine in the United States.
The declining health of Anandibai didn’t stop her from setting an example for other women. She continued to study medicine and work related to the change that society needed. She gave a new perspective to society. She ensured people see women as not only a subject to marriage but as potential assets for the development of society and nation.
After her arrival in India in 1886, Anandibai Joshi was welcomed by the princely state of Kolhapur. She was appointed as the physician in charge of the female ward of Albert Edward Hospital. But soon in the year 1887, she died of tuberculosis.
Anandibai Joshi’s determination, strong willpower and spirit of never looking back gave a strong message to the society that women are not an object or instruments. They can be proved to be a potential asset for nation-building, provided they are given fair chance and all the opportunities.
There is nothing that a woman cannot do. She can even dare to change the orthodox belief system. This is a story of an unsung hero who has changed the entire scenario of women’s education and has given a strong message to the world that all a woman need is a positive outlook from society.