Phule, along with her husband Jyotirao Phule, dedicated her life to cause of women's rights and education. (Source: Express Archives)
January 3 marks the birthday of the 'mother of Indian feminism' Savitribai Phule, who is regarded as a social reformer, an educationist and a poetess. Phule, along with her husband Jyotirao Phule, dedicated her life to the cause of women's rights and education. She is considered to be an important figure in the social reform movement, particularly in the state of Maharashtra. On her 189th birth anniversary today, here are some powerful facts on her. Read on.
* Phule was born in the village of Naigaon in the Satara district of Maharashtra, in the year 1831, to parents Lakshmi and Khandoji Neveshe Patil.
* Married at the age of 10 to her husband Jyotirao Phule — who was 13 at the time — she fought social injustices like child marriage and sati. She is hailed as the country's first feminist.
* Education of all women is what she focused on, despite facing ostracism from her community for it. Along with her husband, she opened the very first school for girls in India. Later, they started 18 more such schools.
* She also campaigned against the caste system in the country.
Savitribai Phule on a 1998 stamp. (Source: Wikimedia Commons)
* In an act of resistance, she installed a well in her own house for those who were socially considered to be 'untouchable'.
* As mentioned earlier, she was also a poetess, and her poetry revolved around the nature, abolition of caste system and education. She used her writing as a powerful tool to bring about a revolutionary change.
* Shaving the head of widows was the norm back in those days. Phule was against it. So, she is believed to have organised and led a strike against the barbers, so as to dissuade them from doing it.
* Caste system still haunts and taints the Indian society. But, Phule was an advocate of inter-caste marriages. With her husband, she founded the Satyashodhak Samaj which, it is believed, organised marriages without priests and dowry.
* Phule would also give stipends to children, so as to encourage them to attend schools and complete their education.
Here is what some prominent Indian personalities said about the luminary on Twitter:
Savitribai Phule carried an extra saree because trolls of that time would pelt her with dung & stones for breaking caste & gender barriers to get educated & to educate the marginalised. Her resistance paved the way for the education we take for granted today. शत् शत् नमन 🙏🏽🙏🏽🙏🏽
— Renuka Shahane (@renukash) January 3, 2020
सावित्रीबाई फुले की जन्म जयंती पर उन्हें सादर नमन। उन्होंने सामाजिक एकता, शिक्षा और महिला सशक्तिकरण के लिए अपना जीवन समर्पित कर दिया। सामाजिक चेतना के लिए उनका संघर्ष देशवासियों को सदा प्रेरित करता रहेगा।
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) January 3, 2020
Savitribai Phule was the first female teacher in India and is also known as the mother of feminism in the country. She tirelessly worked and dedicated her life to abolishing gender & caste-based discrimination. Her contributions to the nation shall never be forgotten. pic.twitter.com/FteBYLKw73
— Congress (@INCIndia) January 3, 2020
— Capt.Amarinder Singh (@capt_amarinder) January 3, 2020
Phule died at the age of 66 in Pune, at the time of the bubonic plague. Her legacy, however, continues to inspire us.