Anandi and the caste system
Here is a bit more reading about why Anandi Gopal Joshi getting an medical education in the late 1800's was AMAZING and completely unheard of...
The caste system, many of us learned about it in school but we can never really understand the severity of it. In the caste system, where you are born is where you stay. This was true during the time of Anandi and true even now.
There are 5 main castes (ranked below from highest to lowest), with each caste having their own sub-castes. The amazing part is the break down by popuation in each caste.
- 8.1% are Brahmins
- 7%are Kshatriyas
- 58.4% are Vaishya
- 26.5% are Shudras
"In modern India, about 20 percent of the population belongs to the caste of untouchables, and most of these have to live in their separate ghettos or completer outside the villages. Such people are not allowed into the shops, any public or medical institutions, or even to use public transport."
For a very long time even in the highest of castes women were considered chattles, like livestock. They were not allowed to get an education and were kept happy by being given "ornaments". So just imagine what it was like to be a woman in any lower caste.
Even still, the literacy rate for males is over 80% while the rate for women is barely 60%.
If you want to see an amazingly educational 5 min PBS clip... check out America Ferrera and PBS discuss The Impact of India's Caste system on Women.
Pandita Ramabai Sarasvati blew the lid off of what was really going on with women in India in the late 1800's with her book The High-Caste Hindu Woman in 1888. Google her, and just read some of the articles that highlight her book. It's fascinating.