Savitribai Phule, India’s First Known Feminist: Know Why You Owe Her

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Savitribai Phule
Savitribai Phule

Savitribai Phule is considered as one of the first-generation modern Indian feminists. Today (January 3) marks her 187th birth anniversary. She was modern India’s first woman teacher champion of women’s liberation and a mass leader.

She did that work which was difficult to think in that period. Born today in 1831, Savitri is considered one of the most prominent figures in social reform movement in Maharashtra.

Why we all should remember her? You owe her, but do you know her?

Savitribai Phule
Savitribai Phule

Savitribai Phule and her husband Jyotiba Phule did hard work to overcome women education and other social evils in society. She, along with Jyotibha, founded the first women’s school in Pune in 1848.

Another fact is that she was the first woman to become a teacher and headmistress in the whole country. The University of Pune was named Savitribai Phule University in 2014 to show her immense contribution.

Savitri was a child bride who stood up against discrimination

Savitribai Phule
Savitribai Phule

She was married when she was just nine to Jyotirao, who was 12 then. Savitri set up a care centre for widows and also encouraged them to remarry.

Child marriage was prevalent in the 19th century and many young girls often became widows even before attaining puberty as their body was not enough mature to conceive.

Widows used to shave their heads and live a life of austerity. Savitribai decided to fight against this practice and  opened a care center for pregnant, rape victims to help deliver their children. She also raised voice for the rights of the untouchables.

She opened a clinic to treat sick people and pregnants

Savitribai Phule with her husband
Savitribai Phule with her husband

In 1897, Savitribai and her son Yashwantrao Gupta opened a clinic to treat the sick when a plague spread in Pune.

Unfortunately, Savitri succumbed to the disease in March the same year. The British government honored the couple in 1852 for their contribution to the welfare of women and society.

Savitribai promoted inter-caste marriages & marriages without dowry

Savitribai Phule
Savitribai Phule

The marriage of her adopted son is considered the first inter-caste marriage.

She throughout her life organized marriages without a priest, dowry, and at low-cost. She organized remarriages and opposed child marriages.

Google dedicated a doodle on Savitri’s 186th birth anniversary

Savitribai Phule's doodle in 2017
Savitribai Phule’s doodle in 2017

Savitribai dedicated her entire life to poor backward people & women empowerment. Her husband also supported her a lot and he educated her to fight against casteism. Tech giant Google on 3 January 2017 honoured Savitribai Phule on the occasion of her 186th birth anniversary.

Twitter is paying tribute to her today with hashtag #SavitribaiPhule and here are some selected tweets:

Tribute to the great reformer

Savitribai was a champion of women’s liberation

Awaaz Nation pays tribute to a true social reformer with exemplary work in eradication caste discrimination, women education and widow remarriages.

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