“Last year, on the 118th Death Anniversary of Savitribai Phule, my son Rohith came home to Guntur and said, “Savitribai Phule” fought and struggled for Dalit Women. Rohith also said that the students of the Hyderabad Central University (HCU) celebrated Savitribai Death anniversary as Dalit Women’s Day on March 10, on the university campus. Rohith is not with me, not with us anymore. I want to organise a meeting on that day, March 10, 2016 on the HCU Campus.
Because in this country, no Dalit Women is treated as per law, equal before the law.
Additionally, Mrs. Smriti .J. Irani, the Hon’ble Minister of MHRD, has treated me as if I am worth nothing, harassed amd tortured me in the name of my caste. Because of this targeting, I have lost both my son, Rohith and my adoptive mother.
To this date, this Government is trying very hard to prove that I am not a Dalit, that I do not belong to the scheduled caste. This is a shame and causes deep pain.”~ Radhika Vemula
To celebrate Women’s Day without recognizing the contribution of Dr. Ambedkar, Savitribai Phule, and Mahatma Jotiba Phule is hypocrisy and shameful act. Here are few of the highlights of work done by Mahatma Jotiba Phule and Savitribai Phule for women empowerment.
Also read – Dr. B. R. Ambedkar and International Women’s Day
Mahatma Jyotiba Phule
- On 1st Jan. 1848, India’s first school for girls was started at Bhide’s wada in Pune by Mahatma Jotiba Phule and Savitribai Phule.
- On 28 January 1853: First ever infanticide prohibition home of India was started by Savitribai Phule.
- Savitribai Phule started Mahila Seva Mandal in 1852, which worked for raising women’s consciousness about their human rights, dignity of life and other social issues. She went on to organise a successful barbers strike in Mumbai and Pune against the prevailing practice of shaving of widows’ heads.
Bhidewada, where India’s first school for girls was started by Savitribai Phule and Mahatma Jotiba Phule
- On 28 January 1866, Vishnushastri, inspired by Phule’s movement opened an institution to promote widow remarriage. The institution (a society) was known as Punar Vivahtojak Mandal(remarriage association).
- At a time when even the shadow of untouchables was considered impure, when the people were unwilling to offer water to thirsty untouchables, Savitribai Phule and Mahatma Jotiba Phule opened the well in their house for the use of untouchables.
Read also – Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar’s fight for women’s rights
- Savitribai Phule was the first Dalit woman, in-fact the first woman whose poems got noticed in the British Empire. Savitribai Phule was the mother of modern poetry stressing necessity of English and education through her poems.
- Did you know? On 16th Nov. 1852, Phule family was honoured by British government for their works in the field of education and Savtribai was declared as the best teacher.
- In 1863, first ever orphanage home was started by Mahatma Jotiba Phule and Savitribai Phule, hence gave protection to pregnant widows.
Read also – Book Review of “A Forgotten Liberator : The Life and Struggle of Savitribai Phule”
Not many people know that Dr. Ambedkar always worked hard to uplift the situation of women in Indian society. Here are few of the less known quote/ideas/thoughts/work from Dr. Ambedkar on women empowerment. To celebrate Women’s Day without recognizing the contribution of Dr. Ambedkar, Savitribai Phule, and Mahatma Jotiba Phule is hypocrisy and shameful act.
- Newspapers started by Dr. B. R. Ambedkar, Mooknayak and Bahiskrit Bharat predominantly used to cover issues related to women and their empowerment.
- Dr. Ambedkar was always concerned about women empowerment. In a letter to his father’s friend, young Dr. Ambedkar, during his studies at New York, said – We shall see better days soon and our progress will be greatly accelerated if male education is persuaded side by side with female education…”
- On 18th July 1927, Dr. Ambedkar addressed a meeting of about three thousand women of Depressed classes, he said ‘I measure the progress of community by the degree of progress which women had achieved.’
Check also – Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar’s fight for women’s rights
- Never regard yourself as Untouchables, live a clean life. Dress yourselves as touchable ladies. Never mind, if your dress if full of patches, but see that it is clean. None can restrict your freedom in the choice of your garments. Attend more to the cultivation of the mind and spirit of self-Help. – Dr. B. R. Ambedkar (While addressing women of Depressed classes on 18th July 1927)
- Send your children to schools. Education is as necessary for Females as it is for males. If you know how to read and write, there would be much progress. – Dr. B. R. Ambedkar (While addressing women of Depressed classes on 18th July 1927)
- Dr. Ambedkar said to Women “Learn to be clean. Keep from vices. Give education to your children. Instill ambition into them. Inculcate in their minds that they are destined to be great. Remove from them all inferiority complexes.”
- Dr. Ambedkar said to Women – The paternal duty lies in giving each child a better start than its parents had. Above all, let every girl who marries stand by her husband, claim to be her husband’s friend and equal, and refuse to his slave. I am sure if you follow this advice, you will bring honour and glory to yourselves.
- Dr. Ambedkar raised the Women’s issue as Member of Legislative Council during his debate in Bombay Legislative Assembly on 10th Nov. 1938; he strongly advocated family planning measures and said that besides many other problems giving birth to many children negatively affects Mother’s health.
- Did you know? Maternity Benefit Bill was introduced by Dr. B. R. Ambedkar in 1942, during his tenure as Labour Minister in Governor General’s Executive Council.
- While drafting the constitution of India, Dr. Ambedkar was the prime movers of the provisions related to the welfare of women. On the question of civil rights, Dr. Ambedkar made provisions in articles 14-16 in the Indian Constitution, which provide equal status to Woman and also banned the of sale and purchase of woman prevailing Hindu India.
- Dr. Ambedkar also introduced an emancipatory bill (the Hindu code Bill) in Parliament which intended mainly 1) to abolish different marriage systems prevalent among Hindus and to establish monogamy as the only legal system; 2) Conferment of right to property and adoption on women; 3) restitution of conjugal rights and judicial separation; attempts to unify the Hindu Code in tune with progressive and modern thought.
- Did you know? Dr. Ambedkar created awareness among poor, illiterate women and inspired them to fight against the unjust and social practices like child marriages and devdasi system.
- How many Indian ministers have resigned over women issues?
Read also – Mahatma Jotiba Phule and Savitribai Phule’s contribution towards women empowerment
- Did you know? In January 1928, a women‟s association was founded in Bombay with Ramabai, Dr. Ambedkar‟s wife, as its president.
- Did you know? Dr. Ambedkar believed in the strength of women and their role in the process of social reform. In the Kalram Temple entry Satyagraha at Nasik in 1930, five hundred women participated and many of them were arrested along with men and ill treated in jails.
- Did you know? Dr. Ambedkar believed in the strength of women and their role in the process of social reform. The historic Mahad Satyagraha witnessed participation of three hundred women along with their male counterparts.
- I strongly believe in the movements run by women. If they are truly taken in to confidence, they may change the present picture of society which is very miserable. In past, they have played a significant role in improving the condition of weaker section and classes.
- “Unity is meaningless without the accompaniment of women. Education is fruitless without educated women, and agitation is incomplete without the strength of women”.
- In January 1928, a women’s association was founded in Bombay with Ramabai, Ambedkar’s wife, as its president.
- On 20th July 1942, The All India Dalit Mahila conference was organized and 25,000 women attended that conference.
- Gaining inspiration and encouragement from Dr. Ambedkar, many women wrote on topics like Planning, Buddhist philosophy and such other topics. Women also wrote plays, autobiographies, and participated in Satyagrahas. Tulsabai Bansode started a newspaper Chokhamela. This showed how Dr. Ambedkar created awareness among poor, illiterate women and inspired them to fight against the unjust social practices like child marriages and devdasi system.