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Savitribai Phule - Women Rights Champion

Jishnu Ghose, DH Web Desk, Jan 3 2018, 15:48 IST
Savitribai Phule

Savitribai Phule

At a time in India dictated by men and their archaic rules, systems and structures, Savitribai Phule questioned Indian society's barbaric views regarding women and caste. Savitribai Phule believed in equal rights for women and men, an idea which was ahead of its time. She championed changes in the Indian society in the 1800's and we owe a lot to this social reformer whose 186th birthday is remembered today.

Savitribai Phule is best known as 'India's first female teacher' who fought and worked for the betterment of women's rights, education and literacy. Despite being married at a very young age, she attained an education which led her to raise her voice strongly against the boundaries imposed on women and victims of the caste system.

She was married to an activist and reformer, Jyotirao Phule who supported and encouraged her to read, write and dream of a society where women did not have to be dependant on men. Along with her husband, she conceived and opened the first school for women in pre-Independent India in 1848, located in Bhide Wada, Pune.

At the time, people were not comfortable with a school that focused on the education of women. Despite society lashing out at her, Savitribai Phule was determined to emphasise the necessity of a secular education (both for girls and boys of all castes) and to not be deterred by any kind of defeat.

In order to control the drop-out rate of the girls from school, Savitribai would give stipends to the students (for attendance) and she increased the number of parent-teacher meetings to reiterate the importance and need of an education to the parents.

Savitribai Phule must also be remembered for fighting for the rights of widows, campaigning for the abolition of child marriage, setting up the 'Home for the Prevention of Infanticide' in 1863 (for the safety of pregnant women) and being a prolific poet. Her poetry mainly dealt with issues of education, caste and nature.

We must respect, remember and learn from the woman who not only changed the face of education in India but was and will continue to be an inspiration to women empowerment all over the world.

ALSO READ: Google Doodle pays tribute to social reformer Savitribai Phule

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