Savitribai Jyotirao Phule, was born on 3 January 1831 in Naigaon of Satara district in Maharashtra. Being a common practice in those days to marry a girl at an early age, she got married to Jyotirao Phule at the age of nine moved to her marital home in Pune in 1840. Her most prized possession was a book given to her by a Christian missionary. Jyotirao being a visionary and impressed by her thirst for learning he taught her to read and write. She undertook training at Ms. Farar’s Institution at Ahmednagar and in Ms. Mitchell’s school in Pune.
On January 14th, 1848, Jyotirao started a school for girls despite the criticism from his own caste and being thrown out of the house by his father. People were not willing to send their children to school. Savitribai started teaching in this school and she became the first woman teacher of India.
However, teaching by a woman was not an easy task then because education for girls was considered as a sin. She was subjected to intense harassment as Stones, mud and dirt were flung at her and abuse her in obscene language by a group of orthodox men. But being a strong hearted woman with a passion to educate girls in the society nothing stopped them.
Those days’ marriages were arranged between young girls and old men. As men die of old age or sickness and the girls they had married were left widows. They were forced to have their head shaved so that she could easily be identified as a widow.
Moved by the plight of such widows and organised a strike of barbers to persuade them not to shave the head of the widows. She along with her husband started a shelter home for such widows.