Female Firsts: Justice Anna Chandy was the first female judge of India. On her birthday a look at how she broke barriers for women not just of her own generation.
Anna Chandy became a judge when women were strictly confined to their households. A young woman, who hailed from Kerala, not only chose law when women were nearly forbidden to have careers, she also entered politics to change the fate of women. Chandy took on her male counterparts each time they tried to thwart her ambitions.
On one such occasion Chandy said, “From the elaborate petition, it is clear that the plaintiff’s immediate demand is to ban all efforts by women to gain employment, on the grounds that they are a bunch of creatures created for the domestic pleasures of men, and that their lives outside the hallowed kitchen-temples will harm familial happiness.”
10 things to know about Justice Anna Chandy
- Anna Chandy was born in 1905, in the former kingdom of Travancore and raised in Trivandrum.
- Along with being the first female judge Anna Chandy was also a judge in High Court.
- She was also the first female judge in British Empire alongside Emily Murphy.
- She had an illustrious career and spent eight years working in the Kerala high court where she was appointed by Sir C.P. Ramaswami Iyer, the Dewan of Travancore, in 1937
- Chandy dedicated her significant efforts to the rights of women to work and was a feminist of her time.
- Anna also worked towards demanding quotas for women in government jobs.
- Chandy known as the first generation feminist was the first to get a law degree in her state.
- Anna along with advocating for women’s rights also found and edited her magazine Shreemati for a similar concern.
- Along with being a judge Anna also campaigned for election to the Shree Mulam Popular Assembly in 1931, for which she met with criticism from the newspapers and opposition but was elected for the period 1932-34.
- During her retirement, Anna served in the Law Commission of India, and with that she also wrote her autobiography named Aatmakatha.
Anna Chandy became the first woman in the commonwealth countries to become a high court judge.