Google dedicated a Doodle on Tuesday to mark the 186th birth anniversary of India’s 19th century social reformer Savitribai Jyotirao Phule, considered the first feminist of the country.
Savitribai K Patil was born on January 3, 1831, in a rich and influential farming family and at the age of nine was married off to the 13-year old Jyotirao Phule. She was taught to read and write by her husband and when she turned 17, the couple founded India’s first school for girls and women in Bhidewada, Pune.
It started with just nine girls from different castes enrolled as students but it became a historic step when female education was considered taboo in the orthodox Indian society prevalent then. The Phule couple, who had no children of their own, launched a crusade against social discrimination based on caste and gender, and sparked the flame for women’s equal rights during the British ruled India.
At a time when women had no say in anything, Savitribai’s campaign covered child marriages, child widows, rape victims becoming pregnant, the practice of ‘Sati’, educating women and fighting for equal rights for all women. The colourful Doodle shows Savitribai spreading her sari ‘pallu’ wide to encompass women from all sections of society for education and empowerment.
The ‘Goodle’ (Google Doodle) shows a group of women assembled outside what could be a school for education in a skyblue starry background which also doubles as her blouse. Over the next few years, the Phules set up 18 more schools across the state, of which Savitribai became the teacher, headmistress and principal.
Nearly 18 decades later, the Maharashtra government renamed the Pune University as ‘Savitribai Phule University’ as a tribute to the Phule’s sheer courage and pioneering efforts in the field of education, women empowerment, social reform and gender equality.