Thursday March 22, 2018
Home India Woman Medical...

Woman Medical Pioneers from India, Syria and Japan Who Traveled to Philadelphia in 1885

The picture shows a group of medical students, all women, dressed in their traditional attires belonging from Syria, Japan and India

Women Medical Pioneer
Photograph of Anandibai Joshee, Kei Okami, and Tabat M. Islambooly, students from the Woman's Medical College of Pennsylvania. Wikimedia

New Delhi, August 15, 2017:

There is a remarkable archaic picture of some extraordinary medical students in Pennsylvania in 1885, who was featured on Public Radio International’s “The World” and has been making rounds on the web.

The picture shows a group of medical students, all women, dressed in their traditional attires belonging from India, Syria, and Japan.

What’s so outlandish about the image that has stunned the internet? Nothing is too remarkable in the picture until you see the period of time indicating the image from the year 1885. Each woman was the first in their respective countries to obtain a degree in western medicine.

Why did these women trek to the United States for studies?

America was the only place in the world at that time who offered Medical education to women. It’s also a tribute to the Quakers of Pennsylvania, who believed in women’s rights sufficiently to set up the WMCP way back in 1850 in Germantown.

Woman Medical Pioneer in India
Photograph of Anandi Gopal Joshi (March 31, 1865 – February 26, 1887). Wikimedia Commons

One of the strong-minded looking women among the group is Anandibai Joshi from India. She was married off at the age of 9 to a high caste Brahmin family. Her husband motivated her to pursue her studies back then, which is commendable to acknowledge with regard to the antiquated time of the history. But what impelled her to become a doctor was the tragic story of her own. At the 14, she gave birth to a child who died right after ten days post birth due to unavailability of healthcare facilities. From that point onwards, she decided to become a doctor and overcome hurdles that came her way.

[bctt tweet=”Anandibai Joshi was the first Hindu woman to set foot in America.” username=”NewsGramdotcom”]

Hindus of ancient India considered traveling overseas as a sin that would corrupt them, regardless of which Anandibai succeeded in attaining her dreams. She was the first Hindu woman to set foot in America.

The WMCP received a letter of congratulations from Britain’s Queen Victoria, who was also Empress of India on the graduation of Anandibai.

The mentioned an extract from her letter of application to WMCP:

“[The] determination which has brought me to your country against the combined opposition of my friends and caste ought to go a long way towards helping me to carry out the purpose for which I came, i.e. is to to render to my poor suffering country women the true medical aid they so sadly stand in need of and which they would rather die than accept at the hands of a male physician. The voice of humanity is with me and I must not fail. My soul is moved to help the many who cannot help themselves.”

The picture is also a reminder of just how exceptional America was in the 19th century. America was the inspirational beacon of freedom and equality for the entire world back then.

Another woman from Japan, Keiko Okami, returned to Tokyo and was recognized as a doctor and appointed as the head of gynecology at one of the main hospitals. However, she resigned a couple of years later when the Emperor forbade to receive her during a visit to the hospital because she was a woman.

Sabat Islambouli from Syria also headed back to Damascus and later moved to  Egypt in 1919 according to the alumnae list of that year. It is not known what happened to her ultimately as the college lost contact with her.

Joshi was respectfully appointed to a position as physician-in-charge of the female ward at the hospital in the princely state of Kolhapur. At the age of 21, she was afflicted with tuberculosis and died within the year.

ALSO READ: ‘That’s What They Said’- 15 Quotes by Influential Women around the world 

Anandibai is still revered not lesser than a hero among Indian feminists

Again breaking away with custom, Joshi’s husband sent her burial remains to one of her American friends, who laid them to rest in Poughkeepsie, New York.

Besides the international students, the college also produced the nation’s first Native American woman doctor, Susan LeFlesche. Many American graduates traveled overseas as medical missionaries, particularly to China, Korea, India and elsewhere.

It’s living alumnae number about a 1,000, and are found in almost every part of the American republic and in many foreign countries namely, Egypt, India, China, Japan, Persia, and Korea.

As the heterogeneity has waxed and waned throughout the years, it is interesting to perceive that it was still strong at a time when it was not a popular stance. Even in the crisis of the Second World War, WMC admitted students from Japanese internment camps. However, not everyone was happy about their presence.

NewsGram is a Chicago-based non-profit media organization. We depend upon support from our readers to maintain our objective reporting. Show your support by Donating to NewsGram. Donations to NewsGram are tax-exempt. 
Click here for reuse options!
Copyright 2017 NewsGram

Next Story

Civilians Who Fled Afrin Suffer from Dire Humanitarian Conditions

People sit in a truck with their belongings in the north east of Afrin, Syria, March 15, 2018. VOA

Thousands of civilians who fled the city of Afrin are enduring dire conditions after they reached Syrian-controlled areas south of the Afrin district.

“More than 2,000 people reached the towns of Nubl and Zahraa from Afrin in the past 24 hours, raising the number of total civilians in the two towns to 16,000. Many are suffering from tragic conditions,” according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights website.

Turkish media announced the control of Afrin on Sunday, after the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) withdrew from the city and thousands of civilians were evacuated — 59 days after the launch of Operation Olive Branch, the Turkish military operation in Afrin.

ALSO READ: Refugees in India Looming For Basic Rights: Here Is Why India Needs Refugee Law!

The Observatory said Nubl and Zahraa were struggling to provide shelter and food for the large numbers of displaced people pouring into the towns.

Sumama Al-Ashkar, a journalist in Nubl and Zahraa, told VOA that people were residing in houses, mosques, schools, public halls and warehouses.

“The civilians in Nubl and Zahraa are able to get some aid and services, but those who went to Tal Rifat in northern Aleppo are struggling to survive,” he said.

ALSO READ: Gulf, West grapple with Syrian refugee crisis

The U.S. State Department issued a statement on Monday expressing deep concern about reports coming from the predominantly Kurdish city in the past 48 hours.

“It appears the majority of the population of the city … evacuated under threat of attack from Turkish military forces and Turkish-backed opposition forces. This adds to the already concerning humanitarian situation in the area, with United Nations agencies reporting a displaced population in or from Afrin district in the hundreds of thousands, who now require immediate shelter and other assistance to meet basic needs,” the statement said.

Turkey-backed Free Syrian Army soldiers walk in city center of Afrin, northwestern Syria, March 18, 2018. VOA

Destruction and looting

A number of reports circulated in the media said Turkish-backed forces were destroying and looting public and private properties after they entered the city.

The Afrin media center said once the Turkish-backed fighters reached the town center, they destroyed a statue placed in the center of the city that represents Kurdish cultural figure Kawa the Ironsmith.

“Kawa the Ironsmith is a major historical symbol for the Kurdish people, as it is linked to the most important Middle Eastern holiday, the Nawruz,” Afrin Media Center said.

Footage coming from Afrin also showed Turkish-backed fighters pillaging homes, shops and military sites amidst chaos. They were seen carrying food, electronic devices, civilian cars, farmers’ tractors and livestock.

Members of the Syrian opposition condemned the looting and destruction of the city and called for holding the looters responsible for their acts.

The General Military Staff of the Syrian Interim Government, an alternative government of the Syrian opposition, issued a statement Monday calling for the Turkey-backed Syrian rebels to protect civilians and their properties, and to respect religious and ethnic installations in Afrin.

Turkish soldiers, positioned in the city center of Afrin, northwestern Syria, March 19, 2018, a day after they took the control of the area. VOA

In a comment to CNN, Ibrahim Kalin, a spokesman for Erdogan, did not deny the reports of looting but said the actions were committed by some groups who disobeyed their commanders. He said reports were being investigated.

Guerilla war

On Sunday, Kurdish leader Saleh Muslim told ANF, the Kurdish News Agency, that the fight in Afrin entered a new phase, where the YPG and the Women’s Protection Units (YPJ) will continue to resist in the district.

Muslim added that the civilians had to leave the city for their own protection and vowed to step up the fight.

“The existence of civilians in the city will impose a challenge for our fighters. Our enemy kills civilians and strikes hospitals, and since the Turkish offensive started, civilians were targeted. Now, the war will continue in a different way after civilians left the city,” Muslim said.

A number of humanitarian organizations and civil society groups working north and east of Syria, including the Kurdish Red Crescent, issued a joint statement calling on the international community to act.

“We plea to the international community to intervene immediately to stop these attacks and let the refugees return to their homes, protect their possessions and civil rights, and deliver aid to thousands of people [who] fled this war,” the statement said Monday. VOA