Savitribai Jyotirao Phule (3 January 1831 – 10 March 1897) was the first female teacher of the first women’s school in India. She was an Indian social reformer and marathi poet. Along with her husband, Jyotirao Phule, she played an important role in improving women’s rights in India during British rule.
She was married to Jotiba Phule at the young age of nine. Though, she was formerly uneducated, she was encouraged and motivated by Mahatma Jotiba Phule to study. Later on she became the first lady teacher of India in the school started by her husband. Life of Savitribai Phule as a teacher in the school at the time when upper caste orthodox people used to look down wasn’t easy and many a times they used to pelt stones and throw dung on her.
Jotirao and Savitribai Phule were among the first in modern India to present a major anti-caste ideology and evolve a brand of socio-cultural activism based on uniting the oppressed whom they classified as stree, shudra and ati-shudra. It should be a matter of great interest to feminists and historians that even in the 19th century, here was a couple from a backward class background who understood that it was as important to address the subjugation of women as the oppression of shudras and ati-shudras. In their understanding of the oppressed, the Phules included other marginalised groups such as adivasis and Muslims too.
The couple founded the first women’s school at Bhide Wada in Pune in 1848. Savitribai was the first female teacher of the first women’s school in India and also considered as the pioneer of modern Marathi poetry. In 1852 she opened a school for Untouchable girls.