I expected to find myself in a room full of women. But no, there were more men in the room. Law students. I knew I was privileged to have the opportunity to speak to them. Happy also as I have been wishing for a long time to speak to men. And I had before me, young men.
But why so few women? I had my answer at lunch. “There are few women who study law because their parents do not choose this expertise for them to study. It’s too dangerous.” I had another example of the type of risks women must face in India.
I do not think a parents, here in Quebec, who would consider the practice of law as a dangerous profession for their daughter. Unless maybe if the head of the Mafia is your customer. But then, you would not be alone at the meeting would you? Here, I think, we rarely refuse the right of a daughter her choice of studies. I say this, but I was refused payment for the choices I wanted to make at 15 years old. “Do what ever you want, but I will not pay for it” might be an answer more practiced then I am informed about. My father wanted me to be an accountant. Maybe my financial situation today would be more joyful, if I had been!
Nevertheless, I left the CAP University in Gurgaon, feeling optimistic. These young men, like many people I met in India, are eager to see important mind sets changes in their country. They will soon be in the work force and we can hope that they will better defend women who are too often wrong when facing justice. Those who think that India will never change, wont agree and wont live in hope.
That morning or our way to the conference, we had all heard on the news of a sixteen-year-old girl who had been raped and burned on the roof of her house just near, outside Delhi. We had a moment of silence and deep malaise. The importance of talking about women empowerment was underlined to us in a very dramatic way.
So what can be done and how can attitudes, beliefs and certainties be changed in India? Only education, time for generations to pass and especially, especially, men helping men to see life and women differently. Again and again I repeat, it is men who can help men. I had before me the public to say it to.
I must have look a little desperate and I was encourage with the fact that there is a growing choice of specialties, within the law, that are safe and opening to women.
I understand the concerns and worries of parents but I could not help thinking that “being empowered” also means having the freedom to choose the road travelled. Might this road be safe, or not.
Thanks from INBA team !
Thanks for your participation as a Guest of Honor at INBA- NCU Seminar on “Women Empowerment” on the ocassion of international Women’s Day 8 march, 2016. Your presentation was excellent and inspirable. It was thoroughly enjoyed by everyone. We would like to sincerely thank you for making this seminar successful.
Indian National Bar Association