A leading social reformer of her era, Savitribai Phule was widely regarded as the first woman teacher in India. She was also known as the founder of India’s first girls’ school along with her husband Jyotirao Phule. She fought casteism and patriarchy when few others had, spoke about the need for education and wrote poems against discrimination. Meanwhile, Jyotirao spoke against caste atrocities. She actively voiced opinions against child marriage, Sati, untouchability and other social evils prevalent in the society. Savitribai is described as “India’s first feminist icon”.
On her birth anniversary today, here are some lesser-known facts about the social reformer, thinker and activist:
* A poet and social reformer, Savitribai Phule was born on January 3, 1831, in a family of farmers in Maharashtra. Savitribai is known as a key figure in Maharashtra’s social reform movements.
* Savitribai, along with her husband, Jyotirao Phule, played a major role in the struggle for women’s rights in India during the British Raj.
* Savitribai started a school with her husband in 1848. There were only nine students on the rolls and she used to be the teacher. She offered stipends to prevent students from dropping out of school. Parent-teacher meetings, which seem like modern concepts, took place in her school, which also gave vocational training.
Also Read: Who was Savitribai Phule?
* Savitribai Phule fought against injustice against women at a time when women were subjected to oppression. The first modern Indian feminists who stood up for the rights of women and also fought against widow shaving their heads. A stamp was released by India Post in honour of Savitribai in 1998
* Savitribai Phule opened a care centre for pregnant rape victims and aided deliver their baby. The care centre was called “Balhatya Pratibandhak Griha”.
* When plague appeared in the area around Pune in 1897, Savitribai Phule and her adopted son, Yashwant, opened a clinic to treat those affected by the Third Pandemic of the bubonic plague.
* While caring for her patients, Savitribai contracted the disease herself and died on March 10, 1897, while serving a plague patient.