Savitribai Phule was considered an epitome of education and women empowerment in the country. She made immense contributions in the field of education, however, many of Savitribai’sefforts went unknown. On the eve of her 187th birth anniversary, we are celebrating all the facets of an extraordinary life.
According to a review published in the International Journal of Innovative Social Science & Humanities Research, Savitribai faced a lot of difficulties when she started studying at the Ms. Mitchell’s School in Pune and became one of Maharashtra’s first female students. People would hurl mud and dirt at her for pursuing education, but that did not stop her.
Savitribai got married at a young age and her husband Jyotiba Phule became one of her biggest motivators to pursue education. She became the first female teacher in India and set up more than 17 schools including the first girl’s school in Pune- which initially had only 9 students. The school was run by native Indians at that time and women from all castes were allowed to study there. She would interact with all the students and held regular meetings with the children’s parents to highlight the importance of education. Further, she influenced many writers and poets who further continued the struggle for women empowerment.
Discrimination and violence against women have always been an issue in our society. The Balhatya Pratibandhak Griha was a shelter Savitribai set up specifically for young widows as well as pregnant rape victims.
The Griha also became a nursing home which served as a center to prevent infanticide. Here a Savitribai and her husband Jyotiba Phule adopted a baby boy and named him Yashwantrao.
Savitribai also revolted against the tradition of shaving heads of widows after the death of their husbands. The revolt resulted in many barbers protesting against this tradition and asking for its removal. Lastly, she organized many festivals and forums where women could present issues affecting their lives.
Savitribai was one of the first female poets of the country. Till date, two poetry collections have been published which cover her thoughts on the topics of caste, gender discrimination, and child welfare.
In addition, there is a collection of letters which were sent by the crusader to her husband in her loving memory. The letters were written by Savitribai and covered her views as well as events of society which disturbed her immensely.
In 1868, Savitribai wrote a letter to Jyotiba Phule in which she described an incident where she stopped village people from throwing stones at the newly married intercaste couple. She warned the people by saying that such action will lead to punishment from the British Government and safely evacuated the couple to a place far away from the village.
Another instance of her intercaste support was when she and her husband decided to marry off their son to an intercaste girl. Hence, setting the perfect example of equality.
-Care and treatment
Savitribai was a legendary advocate for the health and wellbeing of the poor and backward classes. In fact, she treated and cared for many patients of the third global bubonic plague. But in doing so herself became a victim and passed away on 10 March in 1897. Savitribai was 66 years old at the time of her death.