Savitribai Phule - Indian Social Reformer

Savitribai Phule Biography - Indian Social ReformerSavitribai Jyotirao Phule (3 January 1831 – 10 March 1897) was an Indian social reformer and poet. Along with her husband, Jyotirao Phule, she played an important role in improving women's rights in India during British rule. Phule along with her husband founded the first women's school at Bhide Wada in Pune in 1848. She also worked to abolish discrimination and unfair treatment of people based on caste and gender. She is regarded as an important figure of the Social Reform Movement in Maharashtra. Savitribai Phule was born in 1831 in Naigaon, Maharashtra. Her family were wealthy farmers.Her father was patil of village(head of village). At the age of nine, she was married to twelve-year-old Jyotirao Phule in 1840. Savitribai and Jyotirao had no children of their own. However, the couple adopted Yashavantrao, who was the son of a widowed Brahmin.

Savitribai was taught to read and write by her husband, Jyotirao. As one of the very few indigenous literate women of the time, she played a full part in her husband's social reform movement by becoming a teacher in the schools he started for girls and later for the so called untouchables in Pune. For this task, she had to endure a lot of abuse at the hands of the orthodox society of Pune. The couple were felicitated by the then colonial government of Bombay Presidency in 1850s for this work. During the 19th century, arranged marriages before the age of maturity was the norm in the Hindu society of Maharashtra. Since mortality rates were high, many young girls often became widows even before attaining maturity.

Savitribai Phule Biography - Indian Social ReformerDue to social and cultural practices of the times, widow remarriage was out of question in many upper castes and therefore prospects for the young widows from those castes were poor. The 1881 Kolhapur gazetteer records that widows at that time used to shave their heads, and wear simple white sarees and had to lead a very austere life with little joy. Despite being required to look austere, the young widows often used to become targets of lust by men and become pregnant. Upon being found out, the widows used to be thrown out of home by their families. To help these women, Savitribai and Jyotirao started a home for widows. Their adopted son, Yashwant was born to a brahmin widow.

Savitribai and her son, Yashwantrao Gupta, opened a clinic to treat those affected by the worldwide Third Pandemic of the bubonic plague when it appeared in the area around Nallasopara in 1897. The clinic was established at Sasane Mala, Hadapsar, near Pune, but out of the city in an area free of infection. Savitribai personally took patients to the clinic where her son served them. While caring for the patients, she contracted the disease herself. She died from it on 10 March 1897 while serving a plague patient.
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