January 3, 2020 marks the 189th birthday of Savitribai Phule, a 19th century social reformer who has many accomplishments to her credit, mostly towards education of women in India. Savitribai Phule and her husband Jyotirao Phule had opened India's first school for women in Maharashtra's Pune in 1848.
She was also a poet and many of her poems were about the need to get educated. As a social reformer, Savitribai Phule had set up a care program for widows and led campaigns against caste-based discrimination. She also campaigned against Sati tradition, child marriage and other social evils.
Savitribai Phule was 9 when she was married to 13-year-old Jyotirao Phule. Her husband educated her at home and trained her to become a teacher. Along with her husband, she opened 18 schools for girls, going on to become India's first woman teacher and headmistress. Both her first and 18th school came up in Maharashtra's Pune. In her honour, the University of Pune was renamed Savitribai Phule University in 2014.
Savitribai Phule had set up 'Balhatya Pratibandhak Griha' to prevent female infanticide and killing of widows and pregnant rape victims. She also set up 'Satyashodhak Samaj' along with her husband Jyotirao Phule which supported inter-caste marriages.
Savitribai Phule's legacy lives on today and her contribution towards women education are hugely respected.