Remembering the oldest flagbearer of feminism and women's rights Savitribai Phule on her 189th birth anniversary
Remembering the oldest flagbearer of feminism and women's rights Savitribai Phule on her 189th birth anniversary
Photo credits: Culture India

The world celebrates Savitribai Phule’s 189th birth anniversary, the woman who relentlessly fought for the rights of women.

Savitribai Phule is known for pioneering the women’s rights movement in India way before it became the norm. She is known for starting the first-ever school for women Pune in 1848. She was assisted in her fight for education for women by her husband Jyotirao Phule. She had faced social boycott during that time for advocating for women’s education.

Despite the social injustices that were hurled at her, Savitribai was determined to have all women educated. She started 17 schools in the country during her time. Until 1851, she had set up three schools that taught 150 girls. She was addressing two social evils at once, while most schools were only for upper-caste students, Savitribai and Jyotirao started schools for the lower-caste and Dalit students as well.

Savitribai was fond of poetry as well, she used the art form to further her causes of women's education and eradication of untouchability.

She was the beacon of light for the women and girls of her time, she started a care programme for the widows of the society. India was deep into social evils against women and lower caste communities. Savitribai fought against all of them, she opposed the practice of Sati and spoke out against caste-based discriminations. She also spoke out against child marriage and asked parents to send their girls to school instead.

Savitribai was herself a victim of child marriage, she was married to Jyotirao at the age of nine, Jyotirao was 13-years-old at the time. Jyotirao was educated and he extended his knowledge to his wife. He trained Savitribai when she said that she wanted to be a teacher.

Today, on the revolutionary social reformer and feminist’s birth anniversary, the Prime Minister Narendra of India Narendra Modi paid his tributes to Savitribai Phule. He said that she dedicated her life to social unity, education and women empowerment.

"I salute Savitribai Phule on her birth anniversary. She dedicated her life to social unity, education and women empowerment. Her struggle for social consciousness will always inspire the countrymen," Modi tweeted in Hindi.

The Congress party said she tirelessly worked and dedicated her life to abolishing gender and caste-based discrimination.

"Savitribai Phule was the first female teacher in India and is also known as the mother of feminism in the country... Her contributions to the nation shall never be forgotten," the Congress tweeted.

Union Ministers Harsimrat Kaur Badal and Hardeep Singh Puri also paid tributes to Phule, born on this day in 1831.

While Badal called her "woman who questioned social norms and petty prejudices", Puri called Phule a "champion of women's rights in India during the British rule" and remembered her for establishing the first Indian girls' school in Pune.

"Savitribai Phule fought for a better, more equal world for all. On her birth anniversary, let's resolve to keep her legacy alive," Badal tweeted.

With inputs from Agencies.

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