Google honours India's first woman advocate Cornelia Sorabji

Google honours India's first woman advocate Cornelia Sorabji

Google Doodle is known for keeping a track of the anniversaries and landmark events in history. "Celebrating India's first female lawyer, Cornelia Sorabji, on her 151st birth anniversary".

She was born in the year 1866 in Bombay's Nashik as one of the nine children to Reverend Sorabji Karsedji and his wife Francina Ford.

Cornlia Sorabji had five surviving sisters and a brother, and two more brothers that died in infancy. Initially denied the permission to pursue law, it was only through the efforts of eminent academic and philosopher Benjamin Jowett who got a special law course devised for her. She received education at home and at mission schools. Her father, apparently, was a key figure in facilitating women's education and helping women get their degree education from Bombay university. The Oxford college - Somerville College - today offers a law scholarship named after her for aspiring Indian scholars.

In fact Cornelia Sorabji is the first Indian national to study at any British university only to become India's first woman advocate. Sorabji was awarded her degree from Oxford after 30 years of passing it. From Leila Seth becoming the first woman to be appointed as Chief Justice to a state high court in 1991 to women heading the four major and older high courts today, the picture is improving. Sorabji, in her career, fought for over 600 women and children and it is said that she did it pro bono.

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She has so many achievements to her name, but they did not come easy.

However, her legal journey in India was not a cakewalk. When widowed, these women were often entitled to their husbands' estates, but their isolation prevented them from seeking legal help to enforce their rights (all lawyers being male). She was formally recognised as a barrister after the law changed in 1923. Despite the insult, struggle and disappointment, she associated with the Bengal branch of the National Council for Women in India, the Federation of University Women, and the Bengal League of Social Service for Women, to bring forth reforms for women in India. She had defended purdahnashins from 1922 to 1929 and organised social work by them from 1924 to 1931.

During World War II, since 1939, she lived in Lincoln's Inn (London).

Google doodle pays tribute to the first woman advocate of India, Cornelia Sorabji, on her 151st birthday. However, she was determined to make a dent in this male bastion.