Scroll Top

Legal profession and Role of women

Introduction

Beginning with the acceptance of Cornelia Sorabji into the High Court of Allahabad in 1921 to rehearse as an Advocate, the legal profession had opened up its ways to the female populace of India. Officially, after the Legal Practitioners’ (Women) Act, XXIII of 1923 was passed and the abolishing the bar on women from practicing in legal matters, Indian women have conceded the option to take up the lawful calling and practice as Advocates in the Court of Law. It is the indefatigable battle by the educated and taught men and excited women in regard to that time that arranged for women’s entry into the good calling of the legal profession. The Indian Constitution of Independent India has given women the right to equality and the right against any discrimination based on their gender from procuring any education or practicing any profession of their choice. The Indian Judiciary was dynamic in support of women who took up the legal profession and proceeded to appoint Hon’ble Justice Anna Chandy, the first woman Judge to the Kerala High Court. In recent times, the legal profession has gone through massive change, with quickly rising numbers of women in its participation. The policy of globalization in the twenty-first century has given additional opportunities to Indian women in legal schooling and training. The invasion of advancement and modernity has directed the court climate as well as stopped the archaic male chauvinism in the calling. Women’s entrance and rising portrayal in the legal profession has been quite possibly the most noteworthy social change of recent times, often termed “revolutionary”, over the past few years.[1]

Challenges faced by women in the Legal Profession

We say we live in a modern society, however, gender disparity is as yet obvious in several professions, including law. Women entering the legal calling need to face a huge number of deterrents to seek after a successful career. A few challenges faced by women law practitioners are explained herein. The absence of balance between work and personal life is one of the significant snags that female attorneys face. Most legal counselors need to work late hours and stay open just about a day in and day out. It tends to be trying for a lady, especially a single mother, to practice in such exhausting time periods. Gender pay gaps exist in practically all callings, female legal professionals procure essentially less pay compared to their male counterparts. One of the normal explanations behind this divergence is that men can land more clients contrasted with their female partners, though this may not be true in certain cases. Most female accomplices need to face stark inequality in pay, regardless of pulling in more business than their male accomplices. Women are no strangers to gender-based inequality and discrimination. Conventional sexual stereotypes represent a few issues. The male peers and clients as well, at times make assumptions about female legal counselors in light of their orientation. They frequently expect that a female specialist might be excessively delicate to deal with an aggressive negotiation or a complicated prosecution. There is likewise pressure for ladies to be better than their male colleagues. The women’s legal advisors or judges who battle to make their voices heard are frequently depicted as forceful. However, this quality is viewed as a virtue by male legal experts. Then there is the generally hidden issue of harassment in the workplace. Such is the murky nature of our judiciary to neglect and avoid such circumstances. There have been many examples of women attorneys being subjected to verbal harassment by either their seniors or their opposing legal professionals while contending cases. Most of the women legal advocates in litigation get no maternity benefits and hence there is greater financial pressure to get back to work. Re-starting the career often gets difficult for women practitioners. Sexual Harassment of women advocates and practitioners in the workplace is also a concerning factor for female professionals to endure and carry on with their careers. [2]

Women’s empowerment and the Legal Profession

Women’s empowerment is said to be one of the basic attributes of a progressive and flourishing nation. Women empowerment suggests the capacity of women to settle on decisions cornering their life and work and giving equal rights to them in all circles of life like personal, economic, political, social, legal, and so on. An ever-increasing number of women are approaching choosing law as an option, and it is reflected in the expansion in the number of females at high-level administration in top-tier firms. Speaking of women’s role in the legal organization, the slow yet exceptionally evident increment and noticeable quality of women in the legal profession can’t be ignored. As women try to balance managing their families and their requirements along with their work life, women’s empowerment is vital for the success of any country. The worth of a woman in a family should never at any point be downplayed. The Parliament of India has passed different regulations and legislations to protect women from any kind of inequality, discrimination, or injustice. With respect to protecting and empowering women, the following laws are enacted, Immoral Traffic Prevention Act, 1956, Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961, Maternity Benefit Act, 1961, Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971, Equal Remuneration Act, 1976, Commission of Sati (Prevention) Act, 1987, Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (Regulation and Prevention of Misuse) Act, 1994, Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006, Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition, and Redressal) Act, 2013.

A woman, first and foremost, is known to deal with complicated circumstances with sympathy and wit simultaneously proficiently. They are fit for negotiating in a subtle manner and handling situations delicately while simultaneously landing a significant blow on their prideful rivals. Besides, Indian courts frequently come across numerous cases which have women survivors of shocking heinous crimes. In such a circumstance it is easier to deal with the case if similarly observed according to the viewpoint of a woman. Over the years, India has seen a few extremely renowned and unimaginably fit and excellent women who have succeeded in the legal field and are as yet considered motivations for the overwhelming majority of young ladies who have consistently aspired to become advocates and lawyers. The constitution of India also empowers women through the fundamental rights given under Article 14 (Right to Equality), Article 15 (Prohibition of discrimination on the grounds of religion, race, caste, sex, or place of birth), Article 19 (Freedom of Speech and Expression), Article 19(1)(g) (Right to practice any profession or carry out any occupation), and Article 21 (Right to life and personal liberty). [3]

Conclusion

The Indian legal system isn’t equivalent to what it had been 10 years prior and the diverse progressions occurring inside it are because of technical presentations and changes in the style of its working. As to the Indian context at the Bar and the Judiciary, there should be a few explicit primary changes that should be made to resolve the issue of gender difference. The females engaged in the legal profession should frame an affiliation that can investigate the issues of injustice and discrimination in the workplace, without letting any woman feel alone in their battle against structural and cultural malevolence. Several gender-friendly acclimations to the law have been sanctioned as of late by the courts. Notwithstanding, it should now look internally and embrace the gender differences and inequality in the calling, as well as the way that subsequently, it’s actually losing the ability of numerous exceptional ladies. It is very important that women get equal opportunities to bloom in the career of their choice without facing any inequality and injustice. Women are capable of handling the toughest situations amicably and hence should not be underestimated. The increase in the contribution of women legal professionals may also help in boosting our nation’s economy.

Author(s) Name: Shaikh Iram Rizwan (Dr. D.Y. Patil College of Law, Nerul. Mumbai University)

References:

[1] Dugad Sejal, ‘Representation of Women in the  Legal Profession in India’ (Aishwarya Sandeep, 26 October 2021) <https://aishwaryasandeep.com/2021/10/26/representation-of-women-in-the-legal-profession-in-india/ > accessed 6 October 2022

[2] Siddhima, ‘Challenges faced by women lawyers in India’ (Jus Corpus Law Journal, 2 January 2022) <https://www.juscorpus.com/challenges-faced-by-women-lawyers-in-india/> accessed 6 October 2022.

[3] Dr Muniraju & Ms Urvashi Attri, ‘Empowerment of Women through Education, Skilling, & Micro Financing’ (NITI Aayog) <https://www.niti.gov.in/empowerment-women-through-education-skilling-micro-financing> accessed 7 October 2022.