Anandibai Joshee was the first Indian woman to qualify as a medical doctor. She was also the first Maharashtrian woman to pursue higher studies abroad. When she received the medical degree in March 1886 from the Women's Medical College of Pennsylvania, she was barely twenty-one. Upon her return to India, she passed away in Pune a year later, a month short of her twenty-second birthday.
She became a mother by the age of 14, but her child, a son, died soon after his birth. This affected her severely, both physically and emotionally. Still a child herself, the loss of her own child made her aspire to become a doctor. The majority of Indian women were at that time unable or unwilling to go to a male physician, and Anandibai felt that as a woman doctor she would be able to serve other Indian women.
In 1883, Anandibai travelled to the United States, to the home of Mrs Theodicia Carpenter with whom she had established correspondence a few years earlier. With the support of the Carpenters, Anandibai was able to secure admission to the Women’s Medical College in Philadelphia, PA where she obtained her medical degree in two years - an astonishing achievement in an era that refused even simple literacy to most Indian women!