Savitribai Phule was the first Indian woman to become a teacher. She also spearheaded the feminist movement and womens education in the country. She is hailed as an important contributor to social reform and took the lead in the awareness of various causes such as child marriage, womens education and caste discriminations. Her efforts created a revolution against the bigoted patriarchy that was so prevalent all across the country.Married to Jyotirao Phule at a very early age, Savitribai was introduced to education only after her marriage. Together, the couple founded various schools, institutions and trusts that aided womens education and empowerment. Read on to learn some valuable information about Savitribai Phule and her contributions to society.Early Life of Savitribai PhuleSavitribai Phule was born in a village called Naigaon, which is about 50 kilometres out of Pune, Maharashtra. Her parents, Lakshmi and Khandoji Nevase Patil, belonged to the Mali community, known as the original inhabitants of Maharashtra, thus they are also known as Mahars, and categorised as an Other Backward Class or OBC. Savitraibai was the youngest of three siblings.Savitribai Phule was married at a very early age to Jyotirao Phule. She was merely 9 or 10 years old, whereas he was 13. However, her education and progression in the field of academics were perpetuated by her husband, Jyotirao. When she got married to Jyotirao, she was completely uneducated.Education BackgroundSavitribais education started after she married Jyotirao Phule. He started educating her along with his cousin Sagunabai Shirsagar at their home. So, Savitribais primary education was taken care of by her husband.She was then educated by two of Jyotiraos friends Sakharam Yeshwant Paranjpe and Keshav Shivram Bhavalkar. She went on to pursue her teacher training at an American missionary school in Ahmednagar. She also pursued a course at Punes Normal School.Family BackgroundSavitribais family was also a believer in age-old practices such as child marriage. They were seeped in casteism and the traditional systems. The reforms she brought later in her life were all due to the education she received after her marriage to Jyotirao Phule.Being from such a backward class gave her the experience and sensibility of the oppressed in a biased society. This was crucial to the formulation of her ideas about social reform and the upliftment of women.Contribution to EducationAfter completing her teaching training, Savitrabai Phule, along with Jyotiraos cousin Sagunabai, began to teach girl students in Pune. At a time when educating girls was unthinkable, Savitribai initiated a movement that enabled women to stand out in society as equals.Between 1848 and 1851, Jyotirao, Sagunabai and Savitribai opened three schools for girls. Together, the three schools had a hundred and fifty students. It was the first time in the history of the country that education of women was taken up as a cause.When they started teaching girls, Jyotiraos father, whose home they were living in, asked them to leave because their work was not understood or appreciated by his family. In fact, what they were doing was considered sinful by the community. They began living in the home of Usman Sheikh, a friend of Jyotiraos. Here they met Fatima Begum Sheikh, who was the first Muslim woman teacher in India. In 1849, Savitribai and Fatima Sheikh started a school in the Sheikhs residence.Her Impact on SocietySavitribai initiated the notion of womens education in India. She has been popularly called the Crusader of Gender Justice. Along with her husband Jyotirao, Savitribai established two educational trusts. One was called the Native Female School of Pune, and the other was The Society for Promoting the Education of Mahars, Mangs and Etceteras.She and husband Jyotirao taught at a total of 18 schools. That was the spread of her impact. In an era when there were no female teachers and no girl students, Savitribai revolutionised the system of education and paved the way for womens education. Any information on Savitribai Phule will lead to details of her work in these sectors.Volunteering Roles Social ReformsNot only did Savitribai Phule focus her efforts in the area of womens education, but also that of education among all castes. People considered to be of lower castes were usually treated with indifference and not offered any scope for education or even a place in society. The endeavours of Jyotirao and Savitribai Phule brought about a significant change in that belief system in India.The other reforms they emphasised were child marriage and widow remarriage. They started a campaign against these age-old practices and established a home for widows and abandoned babies. She also opposed the practice of Sati.Savitribai started a womens shelter that she named the Home for Prevention of Infanticide. This was a safe haven for Brahmin women to deliver their children, instead of aborting them.Jyotirao and Savitribai also opened a centre for rape victims to safely deliver their babies. This institute housed pregnant victims and was called the Balhatya Pratibandhak Griha or Child-Killing Prohibition Home.Legacy of Savitri Phule JayantiSavitribais works include publications of her poems and letters. In 1854, her poetic work titled Kavya Phule was published. Then, in 1892, another work titled Bavan Kashi Subodh Ratnakar came out.In a poem titled Go, Get Education, she urges women to acquire an education in order to free themselves from the pains of subjugation.Savitribai and Jyotirao Phule adopted a son Yashwant, for whom she chose to have an inter-caste marriage.Savitribais death is an epic tale in itself. In order to save a youth inflicted by the bubonic plague, she herself caught the disease and died. Before she did, though, she managed to carry him on her back to the clinic that Yashwant had opened on the outskirts of Pune to treat plague patients.She is often recognised along with BR Ambedkar and Annabhau Sathe as an idol for the backward classes in India. In 1998, the Government of India released a postage stamp in her honour.In Savitribais honour, the Pune University was renamed the Savitribai Phule Pune University in 2015. On her birthday every year, January 3rd, girls schools in Pune celebrate Balika Din or the Girl Child Day.ConclusionThe life and pursuits of Savitribai Phule are inspirational to many people. Her efforts in the areas of womens education, ending class discrimination as well as abolishing age-old practices of child marriage, Sati, dowry and child infanticide transformed the way society viewed women and their role in society.One of the biggest examples of her reformist views was her lighting the funeral pyre of her own husband. She went against social norms that demanded only a son or male relative to light the flame. She went against that tenet and performed the ritual herself.FAQsWhy is Savitribai Phule so famous?Savitribai Phule is known as the pioneer of the feminist movement in India. She was also the first female teacher in the country. That is why she is so famous.Who was Savitribai Phules husband?Savitribai Phules husband was Jyotirao Phule, an activist and social reformer. He was married to Savitribai when he was 13 years old, and she was 9.What social reforms did Savitribai Phule bring about?Savitribai Phule opposed age-old practices such as child marriage, dowry, Sati and child infanticide. She stood for widow remarriage and womens education.