Savitribai Phule (3 January 1831 – 10 March 1897) may not be as famous as Mahatma Gandhi or Swami Vivekananda. But every girl child who goes to school today owes it to her efforts. She was a visionary who fought for the empowerment of Indian women of all castes and communities.
When she moved to her husband’s house after marriage in 1840, he was very impressed by her passion to study. It was he who taught the little girl to read and write.
Savitribai Phule earned the distinction of being the first Indian woman to become a teacher. For this she undertook training at Ms. Farar’s Institution at Ahmednagar and in Ms. Mitchell’s school in Pune.
She set up the first school for girls at Bhide wada, Pune, on January 1, 1848 with eight students.
When she started her unique school, Savitribai also overcame another hurdle – of women not being allowed to step outside the home to work. She carried a change of sari with her every day as men would attack her with stones and even cow dung as she went to and from her school.
But, she didn’t give up. By 1851, she was running three schools with around 150 girl students.
Even 150 years back Savitribai created a system of offering students rewards to ensure they didn’t drop out from school.
After a life lived in serving her cause, she died from an infection in 1897.