It was an amazing surprise for all of us, as we juiced up our laptops for our day ahead, and Google greeted us with a doodle of the inspiring Cornelia Sorabji - the woman who overcame a number of obstacles to become India’s first female lawyer! Illustrator Jasjyot Singh Hans has represented Sorabji in front of the Allahabad High Court, to which she was eventually admitted.
Thanks to Google, we’ve been reminded of another great woman in the Indian history. So here’s what you need to know about Sorabji because we couldn’t find a single reason why you shouldn’t.
Cornelia Sorabji became the first woman to complete her education from, back then, the University of Bombay, and requested assistance from the National Indian Association to pursue higher education.
She went on to become the first Indian woman to study law at Oxford University in 1892, but after being unable to practice law in England as women were not awarded degrees by Oxford back in the days, she returned to India in 1894.
Undeterred by further being barred from practising law in India as well, Sorabji began providing legal support to purdahnashins - women who, as per social norms, weren’t allowed to have any communication with men, according to religious texts. These women when widowed were entitled to their husband's’ property but did not know how to defend their cases legally because all lawyers back then were males.
After petitioning for female legal representatives for minors and women in court, her efforts paid off and bore fruit, as Sorabji was appointed the Lady Assistant to the Court of Wards of Bengal, in 1904. It’s said that she has helped over 600 women and children and often, is believed to have dispensed her service free of charge.
On her 151st birth anniversary, we salute Sorabji’s passion, and honour her spirit of being such a certified #GirlBoss for kicking patriarchy in the ass, and standing up for what she believed in. Given how it is 2017 and women are STILL told what to do and what not to, Cornelia Sorabji is a beautiful reminder that as women, fighting our battles and winning them flawlessly, has been our strength since time immemorial.
And we all know how the saying goes: “Well-behaved women seldom make history”!