This 19th century Indian feminist didn't just educate women— she helped rape victims and pregnant women


  • India celebrates the 187th birth anniversary of educationist Savitribai Phule — the country’s first female teacher who also contributed to setting up of over 17 schools in the country.
  • In times when only higher castes were permitted to attend schools, she started the school for untouchables — and the first girls school in the country.
  • She had set up ‘Balhatya Pratibandhak Griha’ that supported rape victims, pregant women and crack down on female infanticide.
  • She passed away on March 10, 1897 after contracting plague.
Today, India celebrates the 187th birth anniversary of educationist Savitribai Phule — India’s first female teacher who helped set-up over 17 schools in the country.

In 1848, Savitribai along with her husband Jyotirao Phule, founded the first girls' school in Maharashtra — which was unheard of in those times.

Three years later, she founded three schools that taught over 150 girls — higher than the number of boys in government schools.
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In times when only higher castes were permitted into schools, the duo started a school for untouchables as well. She also introduced the concept of regular meetings with parents to push girls for education.

In the 1850s, the couple founded two educational trusts — the Native Female School, Pune and the Society for Promoting the Education of Mahars, Mangs — which were later run by Fatima Begum.

Begum was Savitribai Phule’s friend and partner in social empowerment — who became the country’s first muslim female teacher, following Phule’s steps.
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However, these reforms did not go down well with the society and was often abused by conservatives. That turned her into a crusader for social justice as well.

The mother of Indian feminism


She took many steps forward to aid women, that were much ahead of her time. Her ‘Balhatya Pratibandhak Griha’ supported rape victims and pregnant women in addition to fighting the common practice of female infanticide.

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Phule is now referred to as ‘the mother of Indian feminism.’ She promoted widow remarriage and tried to abolish child marriage. Phule herself was a victim of child marriage, as she was married at the age of nine.

In 1897, she opened a clinic for the victims of pandemic of bubonic plague, along with her son. While helping a young boy suffering from the disease, she was infected.

She passed away on March 10, 1897 but not before leaving us with a better India - long before it was independent.

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See also:
On National Education Day, here’s a look at the recent reforms in India

‘Daughter of the nation’ Lata Mangeshkar turns 90 and here’s taking a look at her career of 77 years
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