Today is Savitribai Phule's birth anniversary. This day is commemorated every year as an important day in the history of education.
Who is Savitribai Phule?
Savitribai, who lived over a century ago is considered to be the first feminist of the country. Her contribution towards girls education, was one of the notable causes she worked for. She was born on 3 January 1831 in a well to do family that was into farming. Her marriage took place when she was nine years old with Jyotirao Phule who was thirteen years.
Jyotirao taught Savitribai to read and write when she was 17. Although she did not have children, she fought for the rights of all the girl children who were subjected to social evils such as sati, child marriage, rape victims carrying baby and gender discrimination during the period when the British ruled.
The couple soon founded India's first school for girls and women in Bhidewada, Pune. At a time when female education was a taboo, her school started with just nine girl students from different caste backgrounds.
Over the next few years, the Phules set up 18 more schools across the state of which Savitribai became the teacher, headmistress and principal.
Nearly 18 decades after her passing, the Maharashtra government renamed the Pune University as Savitribai Phule University as a tribute to her sheer courage and pioneering efforts in the field of education, women empowerment, social reform and gender equality.
Tiffany Wayne, an award winning photographer and author has described Phule as "one of the first-generation modern Indian feminists, and an important contributor to world feminism in general, as she was both addressing and challenging not simply the question of gender in isolation but also issues related to caste and casteist patriarchy
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