Tech giant Google on Tuesday honoured social reformer Savitribai Phule on the occasion of her birth anniversary. Savitribai had many firsts to her credit — she was the first woman teacher of the first women’s school in India and a pioneer in modern Marathi poetry.Savitribai taught in the school which she and her husband, Jyotirao Phule, started in 1848 with just nine students on the rolls.Born into a family of farmers in 1831, in Maharashtra, Savitribai, as was the practice then, was married when she was just nine to Jyotirao, who was 12. They were childless and eventually adopted Yashvantrao, son of a widowed Brahmin.
But when there was opposition to their progressive ideas from Jyotirao’s family, the couple decided to strike out on their own. Savitri set up a care centre for widows and even encouraged them to remarry. She also fought for the rights of the untouchables. When bubonic plague spread in Pune in 1897, Savitri and her son opened a clinic to treat the sick. However, she succumbed to the disease in March the same year. The British government honoured the couple in 1852 for their contribution to the cause of women’s education.The Government of Maharashtra has instituted an award in her name to honour women social reformers. Also, a stamp was released by India Post in honour of Savitribai on March 10, 1998.