I see you adorned in a black and white robe! You are already an epitome of empowered women to those in your inner circle. But if you have been around the corridors in the court, you know all too well, the sordid state of affairs for women in the legal profession, right from the lower courts, upto the Supreme Court.
Around you, people may think that you are one strong, bold woman, who knows her mind and knows how to speak it too. And yet when you see the legal profession closely, the disparities, the inequalities, and the frustrations cannot escape you. Being a 'lawyer', how do you make sense of the gap between the perception of empowerment and the actual reality on ground, where much needs to change and hopefully in our lifetime.
While there are some shining examples of leading ladies in the Court and now on the Supreme Court bench, the majority of courts in India do not even care to have a proper restroom for women, let alone any dignity to spare. From proving oneself tough enough to survive, to fighting the characterization of 'loose women' because you keep long hours, your fight is still an important chapter in the story of women's emancipation in India.
While women are making their mark in every possible profession, there is some beauty when women choose to opt for professions which have traditionally been male bastions – such as law and politics. These are professions that require loudmouths, strong personalities and innately strong survival skills. So no wonder, women are still found few and far in between but when they stick it out, girl do they change the system!
Right from Ms. Indira Jaising who has been at the forefront of women rights issues all her life, to Ms. Indu Malhotra who is donning her role on the bench with as much grace as she did at the bar, to Ms. Rebecca John, Kamini Jaiswal, Ms. Malvika Rajkotia, Ms. Vrinda Grover, Ms. Zia Modi amongst others, there is inspiration around. Yet it is your journey which you will have to travel with much difficulties and very less support.
Today on women's day, I want to tell you three things which my mentor told me once.
So don't be in a hurry, let go of the constant pressure that comes with 'oh but my biological clock is ticking' and stick it out.
Show up my girl and see the battle change in your favour.
Perhaps, that time isn't far when Indu Bhan writes her second book on 'Legal Eagles' and finds enough women to feature in it. Being in the legal profession isn't enough – the question is are we thriving? If we are not, what walls are we faced with? And if we are, faced or backed with the walls, what best than to remember the iconic words of the legend – Harvey Specter who said "When you are backed against the wall, break the god damn thing down."
Here's hoping that not only will we all, as a generation of female lawyers break every possible ceiling but that we will do it, holding each other and uplifting each other along the way.
To all the men, sing along, sing loud, and together let's make an equal world. As Gloria Steinem said – "The story of women's struggle for equality belongs to no single feminist not to any one organization but to the collective efforts of all who care about human rights."
Happy Women's Day!
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