Ranade was a founder of the Social Conference movement, which he supported till his death, directing his social reform efforts against child marriage, the shaving of widows' heads, the heavy cost of marriages and other social functions, and the caste restrictions on traveling abroad, and he strenuously advocated widow remarriage and female education. He was one of the founders of the Widow Marriage Association in 1861. Though Ranade criticised superstitions and blind faith, he was conservative in his own life. He chose to take prayaschitta (religious penance) in case of Panch-houd Mission Case rather than taking a strong side of his opinions.
Justice Ranade, Vaman Abaji Modak, and Historian Dr. R. G. Bhandarkar established the Maharashtra Girls Education Society and Huzurpaga, the oldest girls' high school in Pune as well as in Maharashtra, India in 1885.,
A television series on Zee Marathi named Uncha maaza zoka (roughly translated as 'I have leapt high in Life') based on Ramabai's and Mahadevrao's life and their development as a 'women's rights' Activist was telecasted in March 2012,. This series was critically acclaimed and celebrated throughout Maharashtra. The TV series was based on a book by Ramabai Ranade titled "Amachyaa Aayushyaatil Kaahi Aathavani" (in Marathi). In the book, Justice Ranade is called "Madhav" rather than Mahadeo.