Today (September 5) is Women in Medicine Day. The entire month of September has been designated as Women in Medicine Month. #WIMMonth.
I am honoring Dr. Anandi-bai Joshee, the first woman from India who became a doctor. My book about her, titled Radical Spirits, is due out at the end of 2019.
Here is a brief summary of the story that my book tells:
In 1883, an unschooled Indian teenager named Anandi Joshee sailed from Calcutta to New York. This was a time when there were no schools for girls in India. Also, doctors (who were all male) could not treat female patients. Having witnessed the suffering of women, Joshee decided to become a doctor so she might provide medical care to her “country-sisters.” Through her achievement, she hoped to help create a culture that saw women as deserving, and capable of, equality with men.
Anandi faced critics in India and skeptics in America. Her two champions were her husband Gopal who had tutored her and fostered her ambition, and Theodocia Carpenter, a New Jersey housewife who had initiated a correspondence three years before, offering “all possible help.” With her determination and grace Anandi won the support of all—American, British and Indian alike—who crossed her path. Three thousand people attended her 1886 graduation from the Woman’s Medical College in Philadelphia, and Queen Victoria sent congratulations from London.
Based on original letters, diary entries, archives and newspaper accounts, the book draws a textured portrait of British India and post Civil War America and the rich relationships that thoughtful Indian, British and American individuals managed to forge by bridging cultural, political and class boundaries.
Who are some of the women in medicine that you want to honor today?