A Parsi social reformer, Behramji M. Malabari, along with a friend, Diwan Dayaram Gidumal, founded the Seva Sadan in Bombay in 1908. They founded the Seva Sadan Society as a refuge where impoverished and oppressed women of all communities could find the protection, care and a home where they could live a life of peace, respect, and dignity.
In the early 20th century, there was an uncharitable and unjust period in India when disadvantaged women found it extremely difficult to survive the prejudice of Indian society. Widowed and destitute women were exploited, persecuted, and lived under harsh and repressive cultural attitudes during that period. Behramji M. Malabari and Diwan Dayaram Gidumal were social activists fighting against these injustices. They were determined to emancipate, educate and empower these oppressed women.
B. M. Malabari spoke vigorously for widow remarriage among Hindus and against child marriage. His efforts led to the ‘Age of Consent Act of 1891‘ regulating the age of consent for females.
Seva Sadan (Bombay)
In 1908, B. M. Malabari and Dayaram Gidumal came up with the idea of establishing a home for women and training Indian women to be nurses. They then turned to Ramabai Ranade for her guidance and help in starting a Society. Thus, the Seva Sadan Society came into being in 1908 in Bombay.
Seva Sadan specialised in providing care to those women who were exploited and then discarded by society. It catered to all caste and provided the destitute women with education, medical and welfare services.
Poona Seva Sadan
In 1909, Poona Seva Sadan was started and later, in 1915, registered as a Society under the guidance of Ramabai Ranade. Society expanded its old educational departments and also began new ones. It developed Pandita Ramabai Navrange Teachers Training College for women (established in 1914) and three hostels: one for Medical students and the other for probationer nurses.
By 1924, Poona Seva Sadan was training more than one thousand women in different departments. It was primarily due to Ramabai’s initiative, guidance, and exertions that Seva Sadan found a footing and grew rapidly in spite of prevailing prejudices.
Who founded the Seva Sadan?
Seva Sadan at Bombay was founded by B. M. Malabari and Diwan Dayaram Gidumal in 1908. Ramabai Ranade became its first president.
Poona Seva Sadan was founded by Ramabai Ranade in 1909.
Who was Ramabai Ranade?
Ramabai Ranade (1862-1924) was an Indian social worker and one of the first women’s rights activities in the early 20th century. She was married to Justice M. G. Ranade, who was a distinguished Indian scholar and social reformer. In 1884, Ramabai, with her husband and colleagues, established one of the country’s first Girls’ High schools, Huzurpaga in Pune.
Inspired by her husband, Ramabai began the ‘Hindu Ladies Social Club‘ in Bombay to develop public speaking among women.
After the death of her husband in 1901, Ramabai devoted the rest of her life to the betterment of women’s lives, primarily through the activities ‘Seva Sadan Society’ in Bombay and Pune.
She was the founder and president of the Poona Seva Sadan.