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In the modern times, one cannot talk about girl child education without learning about the work done in the past by the amazing woman, Savitribai phule. She was a pioneer of women education and has fiercely raised her voice against the dominant caste system. She always stood with the marginalised and used education as a tool of emancipation. She never failed to raise her voice against the discriminatory boundaries imposed on women leading to their oppression. There have been instances when people pelted stones and mud on her for all her good deeds, but she never stopped. To such people, she preferred response over reaction and patience over anger. She lived her life on the principles of humanity, equality, liberty and justice.

She is considered as the first female teacher of India, and led to equality in education by including women in her journey. She emphasised on secular education for social emancipation. Her camaraderie with her partner is an example of togetherness and equality in relationships. They both were engaged in a struggle to fight the caste based discrimination and build a society based on the principles of equality and justice. She challenged the Brahmin hegemony and fractured their dominance through her enduring and heroic struggle for women’s and marginalised people’s rights. She overcame and survived everyday harassment and oppression and dared to learn and teach other women.

Savitri bai dedicated her life to spreading a message of education and knowledge. She used the tool of education to educate the women on their health, prevention of infanticide and self empowerment. She always insisted that, ‘education should give one the ability to choose between right and wrong and between truth and untruth in life.’ This is here we as Samanta find synergy with the ideological belief system of Savitribai Phule. We are working on building the first generation learners among the forest dwellers so that they acquire the ability to take decisions for themselves. With our initiative on education, our focus is centered around the education of the girl child and educating the women and adolescent girls about healthy and hygienic living.

Savitri bai carried the struggle for gender equality when the existence of women was completely unnoticed. The society hardly noticed the presence of women beyond domestic life. Educating girls was not even in the dreams of the people when she lit the lamp of equality in education. Her work is an example of strength and vigour, which has been our constant source of inspiration and hope. Her greed for imparting education is what we strongly practice. At Samanta, have focused on building local youth leadership with due respect to the indigenous knowledge they bring with themselves. Humanity and respect for each and every individual beyond the bias of caste, gender class and sexuality, is our motto. People like Savitri bai Phule set the example of an inclusive society where in every individual enjoys the right to education and life of dignity.

Tanya Khera

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