Free Press Journal

Savitribai Phule 121st death anniversary: 10 facts to know about the woman who reshaped Indian education system


Jyotiba & Savitribai Phule

A leading reformer of the 19th century Savitribai Phule was India’s first woman teacher, a social reformer, poet and crusader for women empowerment. She is someone who revolutionised women education in India. She is the one who broke the stereotypes such as inter-caste marriages and performing the last rites of husband, to name a few. At a time when India was against the education of women, and education was considered to be privileged Savitribai acted as a messiah and emphasized on secular education. On her 121st death anniversary, we bring to you 10 lesser known facts about Savitribai Phule, you all need to know.

  • Born on January 3, 1831, Savitribai was married to social reformer Jyotirao Phule at the young age of 9. Jyotirao was 12 years old at the time of their marriage.

  • Jyotirao helped her to attain a good education and helped her to achieve her dream of living in a country where women get right to live a good life and attain education. She set up country’s first women’s school in Pune and became first woman teacher in the country. Later, she set up 17 more schools. It is because of her thousands of women fulfilled their dreams.

  • She also conducted regular parents meeting to make parents understand the importance of education.

  • Her move was not taken positively by many, who would throw cow dung and mud as she walked towards the school. Later, she started carrying two sarees. To control the school drop rate she would give stipends to students.

  • Kavya Phule, Savitribai’s first collection of poems, was published in 1854 that emphasizes the importance of English and education.

  • To prevent female infanticide and killing of widows and pregnant rape victims, she set up an open care centre ‘Balhatya Pratibandhak Griha’. The couple also helped them to begin a new life.

  • Shaving heads of widows was a norm in those days. To fight against the practice, Savitribai led a protest against barbers to stop them from shaving women’s heads.

  • She supported inter-caste marriages and hence, along with her husband founded the ‘Satyashodhak Samaj’. The Phule couple used to organise marriages at a nominal cost without any dowry and priest. She lead the Satyashodhak Samaj until her death. She also campaigned against Sati and child marriages.

  • During the third global pandemic of the bubonic plague, while taking care of the patients Savitribai contracted the disease herself and passed away on March 10, 1897.

  • On March 10, 1998, a stamp of Phule was released by the India Post. In 2015, as a tribute to Savitribai for her contribution in the field of education, the University of Pune was renamed as Savitribai Phule Pune University.