125 years of cherished legacy
Government College for Women is celebrating 125 years, accolades are pouring in from all quarters for an institution that was as much about the region’s transformation.
THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The Government College for Women, established in 1864 during Aayilyam Thirunal’s reign, is the sixth-oldest college in the state and one of the oldest for women in the country. Now, as it celebrates 125 years, accolades are pouring in from all quarters for an institution that was as much about the region’s transformation as it was about the education for women.
“Women’s College brought a significant change in a rigid society marked by untouchability. The college became a place where students from different backgrounds, including Brahmins, the Nair community, other backward classes, and Christians, came together to learn — a groundbreaking shift,” says historian
M G Sasibhooshan.
“During that time, societal norms demanded that girls marry early. This meant that many of them were unaware of the world outside their homes. Teachers at the institution took a progressive step by educating girls on many things, including the basics of hygiene and menstruation, and in doing so challenged traditional beliefs, and contributed to the progressive movement in Travancore,” he adds.
Nalini Netto, former chief secretary of Kerala and an alumna of the college, says, “I have fond memories of my time at what was then the H H Maharaja’s College for Women, from 1973 to 1978. Today, I feel privileged to have studied in an institution that remains a testament to the far-sighted progressiveness of the erstwhile rulers of Travancore.”
According to her, the college, which first began as Sircar Girl’s School, was founded at a time when many of the so-called developed countries had only started permitting higher education for women. “I hope the institution reinvents itself once again as a centre of learning, shaping the careers and lives of a new generation of women in our society,” Nalini adds.
By 1920, the institution was elevated to a first-grade college and renamed H H Maharaja’s College for Women. It was also affiliated with the University of Kerala, thereby establishing its place in the educational landscape. The year 1952 saw the introduction of degree courses in mathematics, botany, zoology, philosophy, Malayalam, and Sanskrit.
In the early 1970s, the college underwent an expansion phase, regularly introducing new courses and upgrading departments to postgraduate status. Presently, the college boasts 24 teaching departments conducting 17 UG and 18 PG courses, with 11 departments identified as research departments.
Rajashree Warrier, a renowned dancer and alumna, says, “My time at Women’s College Trivandrum played an important role in shaping my career. Representing the college in various university competitions in dance and music opened the doors to recognition from renowned artists beyond Kerala. The college’s support during this period really helped me grow. In every aspect, Women’s College offered me a fresh perspective on various situations in life.”
Adv Rakhi Ravikumar, councillor and former deputy mayor of Thiruvananthapuram, says, “Women’s
College is a wonderful world.” Apparently, Rakhi begun her organisational work there and even participated in elections. “Skipping classes, gathering with friends, hiding from the principal, and enjoying shared meals were some fun moments,” she adds.