Google India is celebrating the 186th birth anniversary of Indian social reformer and poet Savitribai Phule today through a special doodle. Women in India have conventionally been subjected to oppression, treated as mere objects. Though these grievances of women in India are overlooked by many even today, Savitribai Jyotirao Phule and her husband stood up to fight against these ‘very injustice’ over 150 years ago.
Savitribai was born on 3 January 1831 in Naigaon, Maharashtra, to a family of farmers. She grew up to be a social reformer and a poet, and played an instrumental role in fighting for women’s rights in British India. She herself was a victim of child marriage as she was married to 12-year-old Jyotirao Phule, at a tender age of 9 years.
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Savitribai became a messiah for women who suffered from oppression of all kinds and opened a care centre for pregnant rape victims and helped them deliver children. She also founded the first women’s school at Bhide Wada in Pune in 1848. For her splendid deeds and social activities, she was described as “one of the first-generation modern Indian feminists”.
She started a care centre for victims of sexual harassment (leading to pregnancy) and female infanticide, which was named “Balhatya Pratibandhak Griha” (Infanticide prohibition house).
Apart from working for the noble cause of women, Phule also worked generously to abolish discrimination and unfair treatment of people based on caste and gender.
She also felt the plight of untouchables in Maharashtra and dug a well in her house in 1868 so that, the so-called untouchables can quench their thirst; thereby single-handedly taking on the upper-caste people.
She died while taking care of the patients suffering from bubonic (bacterial infection) plague, during the worldwide Third Epidemic.