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Celebrating India’s First Woman Teacher: Savitribai Phule

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Celebrating India's First Woman Teacher: Savitribai Phule
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Every year on January 3rd, India observes Savitribai Phule Jayanti, not merely a birthday but a day dedicated to honoring a remarkable woman who tirelessly advocated for girls’ education, igniting a revolution in India.

Born in 1831, Savitribai faced the injustice of being denied access to education during a time when girls, especially those from lower castes like herself, were barred from learning. Despite these challenges, she envisioned a world where every girl, regardless of background, could read, write, and stand independently.

Savitribai Phule boldly challenged the entrenched gender norms of the 19th century, a period marked by British colonization in India, where women’s issues were often overlooked. Alongside her husband Jyotirao Phule, she pioneered women’s education by establishing India’s inaugural school for women in Pune in 1848. Savitribai, becoming the country’s first female teacher, went on to create 17 more schools.

In their relentless fight against caste-based discrimination, Savitribai and Jyotirao Phule founded the Satyashodhak Samaj, a social reform organization aimed at dismantling the oppressive caste system.

A fervent promoter of widow remarriage, Savitribai campaigned against prevailing customs that condemned widows to lives of deprivation, advocating for their right to remarry.

Devoting their lives to social reform, the Phule couple combated untouchability and labored to uplift the lower castes through education and awareness initiatives.

Beyond her impactful social work, Savitribai Phule excelled as a poet and writer, penning powerful verses that brought attention to gender and caste discrimination, leaving an indelible mark on Marathi literature.

In recognition of her monumental contributions, Savitribai Phule is revered as one of India’s foremost social reformers. Smile Foundation celebrates Savitribai Phule Jayanti as a day to honor her enduring legacy and her profound contributions to education and social equality.

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