The law profession has always been a male-dominated turf. Women have been battling for greater representation in legal arenas. The Supreme Court has 27 judges currently, but only one is a woman, and a woman has been titled the Chief Justice of India.
But, many strong-willed women managed to rise despite all odds and have made their mark in the field. Breaking stereotypes with their talent and inspiring many young women, these superwomen have made a notable mark in the legal profession.
Menaka Guruswamy is a senior advocate in the Supreme Court of India. She is known for leading many landmark cases in India; her most important contribution has been in the decriminalisation of Section 377 in 2018. She, along with her partner and lawyer, Arundhati Katju, brought down a colonial-era law that disallows consensual same-sex intercourse. It was a big win for her and our nation too. The couple laid the first stone for the LGBTQIA+ community to live with greater dignity than before.
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Indira Jaising is one of the senior and best advocates in the Supreme Court of India. She has been a trailblazer in her field, so much so that any list of change-making lawyers in the country would be incomplete without her name. Jaising was ranked 20th in the list of 50 Greatest Leaders of the World by Fortune magazine. She was appointed as the first woman Additional Solicitor General of India in 2009, and since then, she has been a champion of human rights and feminism. One of her landmark cases was the one where she represented author Githa Hariharan in 1999, where the mother was granted the status of ‘natural guardian’ of her minor children. She has also been involved in cases related to discrimination against women, the Muslim Personal Law, domestic violence cases, child labour, and so on.
Rebecca John is one of the first Indian woman lawyers to become a senior advocate in the field of criminal law. She has represented Nupur and Rajesh Talwar, who were accused of murdering their daughter Aarushi and a domestic worker, Hemraj, in a widely reported case in 2008. She also appeared as legal counsel for one of the Nirbhaya gangrape convicts, challenging execution orders passed by the court. She stood as a solid advocate for humanising rape trials make survivors walk out of the courts with replenished self-esteem and their head held high.
Kiruba Munusamy is an advocate practicing in the Supreme Court of India. Munusamy is a human rights lawyer and Dalit activist. She works on eliminating all forms of caste discrimination, oppression, and inequality in the society. She is working against various human rights violations in India that include caste and gender-based discrimination, caste-based atrocities against Dalits, violence against women, and so on. Apart from the legal framework, she conducts awareness campaigns and workshops to educate the downtrodden, Dalit women, and sexual minorities (LGBTQI) about their fundamental human rights and legal remedies on the violation.
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Abha Singh is a former civil servant and an advocate practicing currently in the High Court of Judicature at Bombay. She has been a defender of justice for women for years as an inspiring figure across causes spanning the menstrual rights, MeToo movement, LGBTQIA+ community, and cyber-harassment of women. She runs an NGO named Rann-Samar, through which she helps people who cannot afford professional lawyers. She launched her book named Stree – Dasha aur Disha, which promotes women empowerment by highlighting real-time cases and their legal recourse and educating women of their rights.
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Flavia Agnes is a senior lawyer with expertise in marital, divorce, and property law. She started practising law in 1988 at the Mumbai High Court. Her personal experience with domestic violence inspired her to become a women’s rights lawyer. She is a renowned gender rights lawyer and director of ‘Majlis’, a Mumbai-based organization that provides legal initiatives for women on issues of matrimonial rights, child custody, etc. She has written numerous articles on the themes of gender and law, minorities and the law, and law on women’s movements and on issues of feminist jurisprudence and domestic violence.
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Also read – 5 Famous Indian Lawyers and where they studied