As the country joins hands today and celebrates National Doctors’ Day, we must salute their sacrifices and laud them for showing extraordinary passion for their profession especially during these pandemic times. While we celebrate the importance of doctors in our lives, we also need to remember those who became an inspiration for many. The first female doctor of India, Anandibai Gopalrao Joshi, is one such name that needs to be remembered, revered and honored.

Born on March 31, 1865, in a conservative Brahmin family in Maharashtra, Yamuna at the age of 9 was married off to Gopalrao Joshi who was 25 year old. Her husband changed her name from Yamuna to Anandibai. Gopalrao Joshi also convinced both the conservative families of the times that his wife will pursue her academic studies even after their marriage.  Anandibai did’nt knew how to read and write until her marriage with Gopalrao as her parents were against her getting an education. And hence she did not had an avid interest in academics and was often chided by her husband for the same.

When she was 14-years-old, Anandibai lost her new born child 10 days after delivery.  That shocking experience apparently took a turn in Anandibai’s resolve towards life further. She took the bold decision, a breaking off taboos of those times, to become a doctor and prevent untimely deaths. After she made up her mind, Anandibai started studying and completed her basic education. Following this, she enrolled herself in a medical program at the Woman’s Medical College in Pennsylvania – which was one of the world’s two women’s medical colleges.

Supported by her husband, Anandibai boarded a ship from Kolkata to reach New York. After two years, a 19-year-old Anandibai graduated with a degree in western medicine from the United States and became the first woman physician in India. When Anandibai returned home, she was welcomed with love and appreciation. Not only this, but she was also appointed as the medical in-charge of the women’s ward of the Albert Edward Hospital in Kolhapur.  But as enthusiastic her life was tragic was it too. Anandibai breathed her last when she was just 22 years old. But  she left behind a legacy that shall live on forever.

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