Do you know, three Indian women are on Venus? Well, their names grace a trio of craters on the solar system’s hottest planet. All identified craters here bear names of women who have made outstanding contributions to their respective fields.
Listed among nomenclature approved only by the International Astronomical Union are our country’s three remarkable achievers. The Joshee, Medhavi and Jhirad craters honour Anandibai Joshi (this official nomenclature spells her last name with a double “ee”), Pandita Ramabai Medhavi and Jerusha Jhirad.
Anandibai Joshi (1865-1887) was a pioneer physician who died tragically young. She is regarded as the first woman doctor to qualify with a two-year degree in (western) medicine, from the US. Her example considerably inspired several Indian women to pursue medicine as a career and forge their own identity in the world.
Pandita Ramabai Medhavi (1858-1922), a leading social worker, Sanskrit scholar and educator extraordinaire of the late 19th and early 20th centuries is recognised as one of India’s most influential reformers. She has the distinction of being the first to promote the welfare and education of Indian widows.
Dr Jerusha Jhirad, a gynaecologist, returned to Bombay in 1925 from medical studies in England and introduced the reformist Jewish Religious Union. This democratic congregation facilitates two revolutionary aspects. Welcoming women rabbis, besides encouraging women to worship and sing in their synagogue, the group also provides translations of Hebrew prayers for community members to better understand their faith.
Approximately 1,000 craters have been named on Venus. Its largest known is called Mead, after American anthropologist Margaret Mead.