Anna Chandy: Woman Leaders of Kerala Renaissance

Anna Chandy

Anna Chandy (1905-1996) 

Anna Chandy is the first female Judge in India and the first Woman High Court Judge in the Commonwealth countries. She fought relentlessly for the women's rights and is widely known as the first generation feminist of India.

Basic Facts

  • Birth – 4 May 1905, Trivandrum.
  • Family – Panavelil House
    • Husband – PC Chandy. 
  • Epithet – First Generation Feminist of India.
  • Titles
    • First Law Graduate of Kerala.
    • First Female Judge in India.
    • First High Court Judge in India.
  • Death – 20 July 1996.
  • Publications – Shrimati.
  • Books
    • Atmakatha (Autobiography)

Early Life 

Anna was born into a Syrian Christian family. After losing her father at a tender age, her early life under the strict guidance of her mother was relatively uneventful which she mentions in her autobiography "Atmakatha." 

Education & Career

In 1927, Maharani Sethu Lakshmi Bai, the regent of Travancore made a revolutionary decision to open admissions for women Trivandrum Government Law College.

Anna's life underwent changes after she had enrolled for a PG course in the Government Law College in 1927 after her family's strong opposition.

She had to suffer many insults and humiliations in the male-dominated classrooms of the law college. Despite that, in 1929, she completed her course with distinction and became the first woman law graduate of Kerala. She enrolled in the bar council in the same year and started her career as a criminal advocate and became very successful.

Along with her successful career, she started fighting for the women's right to equality and widow remarriage. In 1930, Anna Chandy started publishing a Woman's Weekly Magazine called "Shrimati" in which she not only published the women's rights but also discussed topics like "Equal Wages." Shrimati was the first woman's weekly magazine published in Malayalam.

In the 1930s, she entered politics and contested in elections for the Sree Moolam Popular Assembly aka Travancore Vidhan Parishad (Travancore Legislative Council). The first attempt was a dismal failure due to the smearing attempt by the political opponents that questioned her credibility. But in 1931, she won the election and was selected as a member of the assembly where she continued relentlessly her crusade for the women's rights for 2 years.

Anna, a firm believer in equality, thought it unfair to exempt women from the death penalty, and in 1935, she fought strenuously against these unequal provisions of law.

In the year 1937, Anna Chandy was appointed as the First Female Munsif in the Travancore by Sir C.P. Ramaswami Iyer, the Dewan of Travancore proving her staunch opponents that women are capable of making logical decisions. Subsequently, she was promoted as the District Judge in 1948.

The merger of the Thiru-Kochi with the Malabar happened on November 1, 1956. After that, Anna Chandy was appointed as the First Woman of a High Court (Kerala) in India as well as among Common Wealth Nations on 9 February 1959.


After her retirement on 5 April 1967, she joined National Law Commission. She published her autobiography, Atmakatha in 1973 and passed away at the age of 91, in 1996.

📝 SideNotes:

  • First Kerala Woman Judge – Anna Chandy (1937, District Judge (munsif) Travancore by the Dewan Sir CP Ramaswami Iyer. (Previous Year PSC Question – Assistant Town Planner, 2015, Computer Operator, Information & Public relations, 2016)
  • First Women’s Magazine Weekly in Malayalam discussing women's rights – Shrimati.
Thanks for reading!!!