India's the first Feminist Icon- Savitri Bai Phule - Seeker's Thoughts

Recent Posts

Seeker's Thoughts

A blog for the curious and the creative.

India's the first Feminist Icon- Savitri Bai Phule

Go, Get Education/be self-reliant, be industrious/work, gather wisdom and riches/ all get lost without Knowledge” – Savitribai Phule.

Savitri Bai Phule was an Indian revolutionary who fought for the rights of women and the lower castes. She is regarded as the mother of Indian feminism.

She and her husband, Jyotirao Phule, set up schools to educate children from different castes. However, their work was met with severe opposition from many sections of the society.


Savitri Bai Phoole was born in Naigaon (now part of Satara district, Maharashtra) on January 3, 1831. She belonged to a Dalit community (people from a lower caste), and she was married off at a young age.

She was a social reformer and an educator who worked to empower women, eradicate caste and gender discrimination, and remarry widows. She opened a number of schools and NGOs throughout her life.

The British government tried to stop her efforts, but she persevered and became one of the most influential female teachers in India. She was also an advocate for the rights of the lower castes and was a great inspiration to many people in India.

Jyotirao Phule, her husband, encouraged her to learn and educate herself at an early age. He arranged her entry to a teachers’ training institute in Pune and later, she gained her degree.

While pursuing her education, she faced harassment from upper-caste men. Some pelted her with stones and cow dung while she was walking to her school, but she never let this impede her.

In 1848, she and her husband launched a school for girls in Bhidewada, Pune, which eventually became the country’s first girls’ school. She also co-founded the Society of Truth Seekers, a group that promoted progressive ideas and condemned the dowry system in India.

She also played a key role in educating child widows and fighting against sati pratha, which is the practice of shaving a widow’s head before marriage. She was also an outspoken supporter of remarriage for widows and helped break the sex-based caste system in India.

Her work influenced other Indian women, and she was often called the “First Lady of Education.” She was a social reformer, teacher, and poet. She was a leading figure in India’s social reform movement and is known as the “Mother of the Nation.”

Savitribai Phule was a very brave woman who did everything she could to ensure that everyone in her society had the chance to receive an education. She was a pioneering feminist who led the way for others to follow in her footsteps. She is remembered today for her contributions to women’s rights in India and around the world.


In 1831, Savitri Bai Phoole was born into a farmer’s family in the village of Naigaon in Maharashtra. She was illiterate, but her husband, Jyotirao Phule, educated her from an early age. The couple devoted their lives to the improvement of women’s rights and education.

In an era where women were not considered eligible for education, she and her husband Jyotirao established India’s first girls’ school in Pune. They opened it with donations and welcomed girls of all castes.

Though she faced threats and ostracism from upper-caste men, Savitribai continued her fight against societal prejudices. She set up several schools, including a shelter home for widows and child brides, and cofounded the truth-seeker’s society Satyashodhak Samaj.

Her efforts paved the way for a social revolution against bigoted patriarchy that was prevalent in India. She was the pioneer of Indian feminist movement and a strong advocate for women’s rights, particularly education.

Despite the difficulties, she encouraged young women to study and became an inspiration to them. She also urged them to write and paint. Her student, Mukta Salve, was an important figure in Dalit feminism and literature.

In her fight against sati and child marriage, Savitribai made it her mission to encourage women to become independent. She gave stipends to students and held parent-teacher meetings to create awareness among parents on the importance of education.

Savitribai and her husband also helped rape victims by offering them shelter. They also worked to stop the practice of infanticide, which was prevalent in their time.

As a result, Savitribai and her husband were called the “Crusader of Gender Justice” for their work. During her lifetime, she and Jyotirao Phule founded two educational trusts — the Native Female School, Pune, and The Society for Promoting the Education of Mahars, Mangs and Etceteras.

She and her husband also fought against the evils of child marriage, superstition and sati. Despite numerous hurdles, she and her husband successfully worked to improve women’s rights and education in India. They opened a large shelter for widows and child brides and established several other institutions that benefited the lower castes.

Social reforms

Savitri Bai Phule was a social reformer who played an important role in the fight for women’s rights. She and her husband, Jyotirao Phule, helped establish one of the first modern girl’s schools in Pune in 1848.

She was also an ardent feminist and advocated for women’s rights throughout her life. In addition to promoting women’s education, she was also an anti-infanticide activist and campaigned against child marriage.

In 1852, Savitri Bai Phoole founded Mahila Seva Mandal to raise awareness about women’s rights. In addition, she advocated for a place where all women could gather free of caste discrimination.

This act was a major step forward for women in the 19th century. In the past, it was very difficult for people from different castes to meet in public places, and such gatherings often led to caste-based regressive behavior.

To address this, Savitri Bai Phule organized social gatherings for women from all castes and opened her house water tank to the untouchable community in an era when it was deemed impure to offer them water. These actions showed that she was a liberal humanist at heart.

She and her husband were also able to help the poor during famines by distributing food in areas where it was scarce. In 1897, they persuaded the British government to initiate relief work for famine victims in Maharashtra.

Apart from her educational activities, Savitri Bai Phule was also a poet and author. Her poetry is still an inspiration to many people today. She wrote two books of poems, Kavya Phule and Bavan Kashi Subodh Ratnakar.

Savitri Bai Phule is considered a pioneer of the Marathi language and was one of the most significant figures in India’s social reform movement. She and her husband fought for the education of all people, particularly women.

She was a great social reformer and is remembered as a feminist icon for her contributions to the country. She is also regarded as an icon for the Dalit Mang caste and has been honoured in many ways.


Her adopted son Yashwantrao served the people of his area as a doctor. When the Worldwide Third Pandemic of the bubonic plague badly affected the area around Nallasopara, Maharashtra in 1987, the courageous and Yashwantrao opened a clinic at the outskirt of Pune to treat the patients infected by the disease.

 She brought the patients to the clinic where her son treated them while she took care of them. In the course of time, she contracted the disease while serving the patients and succumbed to it on March 10, 1897. 

A memorial was created in her honor by the Pune city corporation in 1983. India post released a stamp in her honor on March 10, 1998, as well. In the year 2015, the University of Pune was renamed Savitribai Phule University.

No comments:

Post a Comment