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Savitribai Phule

Apart from being a leading Indian social reformer, Savitribai Jyotirao Phule was also an educationist and poet. She played an important role in the empowerment and education of women during the nineteenth century. Savitribai was counted among the few literate women of that time. It was Savitribai who established the first girls’ school in Bhide Wada in Pune, along with her husband.

Savitribai was a staunch opponent of the practice of Sati and child marriage, she also launched a campaign to stop it. She believed that all child widows should be educated and given complete freedom. Along with this, he also fought for widow remarriage. She wanted to end untouchability, caste and gender-based discrimination, etc. He also ran campaigns for this.

Early life of Savitribai Phule

Born on January 3, 1831, in Naigaon, currently located in the Satara district of British India, Savitribai belonged to a farmer family. Savitribai Khandoji was the elder daughter of Neveshe Patil and Lakshmi. As we all know at that time girls were married at a young age and sent away. Therefore, following this tradition, Savitribai’s parents arranged her marriage at the age of nine. Thus Savitribai was married to 12-year-old Jyotiba Phule in 1840. Jyotiba was a writer, thinker, social activist, and anti-caste social reformer, considered one of the leading figures of the social reform movement in Maharashtra.

Jyotiba started Savitribai’s education after marriage. It was Jyotirao who, seeing Savitribai’s desire to learn and her eagerness to educate herself, taught her to read and write, and made her an educated woman. Jyotiba supported Savitribai in every way. Savitribai passed her third and fourth-year exams from a normal school. Gradually Savitribai became interested in teaching, and she started taking training at Ms. Farrar Institution in Ahmednagar. It was her husband Jyotiba who always stood by Savitribai’s side in all her social endeavours.

Contribution to women’s education and empowerment

The first indigenously run school for girls was started in Pune by Jyotiba and Savitribai in 1848. At that time Savitribai was still in her teens. However, for this step, Savitribai was ostracized by both the community and family. At this time Savitribai and her husband were given shelter by a friend Usman Shaikh and his sister Fatima Shaikh. He also gave space to the Phule couple in his premises to start a school. Savitribai became the first teacher of that school.

Jyotiba and Savitribai believed that children of all castes should get the right to education and that is why they later started schools for the children of Mang and Mahar castes. Children of this caste were considered untouchable. On 16 November 1852, the Phule family was honored by the British government for their contribution in the field of education and Savitribai was given the title of Best Teacher. Savitribai also started Mahila Seva Mandal to create awareness among women about their dignity, rights, and other social issues.

Savitribai organized a barbers’ strike in Mumbai and Pune to protest against the prevalent practice of shaving the heads of widows. She was also successful in carrying out this strike. By 1858, all the schools established by Phule were closed. There were several reasons for the closure of the school, some of which were Jyotirao’s resignation from the school management committee, the drying up of private European donations after the Indian Rebellion of 1857, and the withdrawal of support from the government.

But Jyotiba and Savitribai were not afraid of the circumstances, rather they along with Fatima Sheikh took up the responsibility of educating the people of the oppressed community. In the following years, Savitribai opened 18 schools in which children of different castes were taught. Savitribai and Fatima Sheikh started teaching women as well as other people from Dalit castes in schools. However according to some people, especially the upper class of Pune, it was not good, they were against the education of Dalits.

Due to all these things, the local people started threatening Savitribai and Fatima Shaikh. They were also socially harassed and humiliated; cow dung, mud, and stones were thrown at them. However, despite such atrocities, Savitribai remained determined and did not get discouraged from her goal and she used to carry two sarees. Savitribai Fatima Shaikh was joined by Saguna Bai who eventually became a leader in the education movement. Meanwhile, in 1855, Savitribai and her husband together established a night school for farmers and laborers.

His objective with night school was that farmers could work during the day and go to school at night. Savitribai started the practice of giving scholarships to the children so that the children do not leave school and can get an education. Savitribai was an inspiration to all the young girls she taught and also encouraged them to pursue activities like writing and painting. Mukta Salve, written by one of Savitribai’s students, became the face of Dalit feminism and literature during that period.

He believed that if the parents of children are explained about the importance of their children’s education, then they can participate in the education of their children and with this idea in mind, he organized parent-teacher meetings at regular intervals so that they can educate their children. Send to school regularly. In 1863, Jyotiba and Savitribai together started a care center called ‘Balhatya Sanbandhak Grih’, the first anti-infanticide home established in India.

The purpose of establishing the Child Murder Prevention Home by Jyotiba and Savitribai was that pregnant Brahmin widows and rape victims could give birth to their children in a safe place. In this way the murder of widows can be stopped and the rate of infanticide can also be reduced. In 1874, Jyotiba and Savitribai, who were otherwise childless, adopted a child from a Brahmin widow named Kashibai, giving a strong message to the progressive people of the society.

FAQ:

Who was Savitribai phule?

Apart from being a leading Indian social reformer, Savitribai Jyotirao Phule was also an educationist and poet. She played an important role in the empowerment and education of women during the nineteenth century. Savitribai was counted among the few literate women of that time. It was Savitribai who established the first girls’ school in Bhide Wada in Pune, along with her husband.

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