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Savitribai Phule is one of India’s foremost social reformers. She was a feminist icon and the first modern Indian woman to become a teacher at the time when girls were barred from attending school. She was also a poet who broke the shackles of patriarchy and did amazing works for the education of girls/women. 

On the occasion of her 191st birthday, here are some must-know facts about Savitribai Phule.

  • Born on January 3, 1831, Savitribai Phule is best known for her work advocating for women's rights in India.

  • Savitribai built one of India's first girls' schools in Pune, at Bhide Wada in 1848 with her husband Jyotirao Phule.

  • Savitribai was married off at the age of nine, she was illiterate. Jyotiba, on the other hand, was a progressive person who taught her to read and write. Savitribai finished her education and went on to receive teacher training. She was the first female teacher in India, as well as the first Indian headmistress.

  • Savitribai Phule later became a teacher and, with her husband, founded three girls' schools in Pune by the end of 1851.

  • Phule set up the 'Home for the Prevention of Infanticide', a women's shelter where widows can deliver their children and put them for adoption if they wanted.

  • She was an outspoken critic of child marriage and the Sati practice. Phule also established a widows' shelter.

  • Her father-in-law evicted Savitribai and her husband Jyotiba from their home for starting the girls' school. With Jyotiba, Savitribai opened 17 more schools.

  • Savitribai was also vocal about widow remarriage and raised her voice to increase awareness.

  • Savitribai Phule hired Fatima Begum Sheikh (the sister of Jyotiba's friend Usman Sheikh) to work at her Bhida Wada school. According to reports, Fatima became the country's first Muslim female teacher.

  • Despite opposition and continuous attacks from the orthodox local society, Savitribai continued to teach girls and children from other castes.

  • Savitribai and her husband Jyotiba adopted Yashwantrao, the son of Kashibai, a widow whom conservative Brahmins wanted to kill after her husband’s demise.

  • Savitribai founded the Balhatya Pratibandhak Griha, a centre for pregnant rape victims where she assisted them in delivering and protecting their children.

  • In 1897, she and Yashwantrao opened a clinic for Bubonic Plague victims.

  • She died on March 10, 1897, from an illness she contracted while attempting to save a 10-year-old boy. The boy survived. 

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