July 16th, 2021
By Ahmed Saeed & Hamid Riaz
A meeting was organized by the Asma Jahangir Legal Aid Cell (AGHS) where the lawyers’ network gathered to discuss and resolve issues specifically faced by young women lawyers. The meeting was held on July 16 in Lahore.
The meeting hall was packed with young lawyers who took part in the discussion with immense focus and towards the second half, eagerly shed light on some of the issues faced by the young female lawyers in the country.
Alia Malik, a senior advocate at AGHS stated that the main purpose of organizing the meeting was to conduct a healthy exchange of ideas between lawyers of different experience levels.
Advocate Qamar Ramay of AGHS, who was also the official moderator of the meeting, declared that such discussions were of utmost importance in creating a conducive and friendly relationship between the bar and the bench, which in turn help in speedy delivery of justice.
Many female participants strongly objected to the seriously lack of women in lawyers’ bodies across the board and demanded that their issues would only be addressed if they were given proportional representation in bar associations.
According to Alia Malik, Asma Jahangir, the founder of AGHS, had worked tirelessly for the cause of female lawyers. But since her death in 2018, the issue had again been neglected. AGHS had decided to organize the meeting in order to try and continue ther legacy of work in the area.
Despite the issues faced only by women lawyers, some of the male lawyers present were of the opinion that the legal profession was inherently competitive in nature, and by giving preferential treatment to women, went against the principle of meritocracy. According to them only a person who has a good understanding of the law could become a successful lawyer, regardless of what gender they were.
Sabahat Rizvi, a senior lawyer of the Supreme Court was of the opinion that in recent years a large number of women lawyers had joined the legal fraternity and were busy making space for themselves which is an extremely positive trend. However she reiterated that the non-representation of women in the bar councils and associations was a massive barrier against the professional growth of female lawyers as a whole.
Haseeb Khalid, a young lawyer stated that in his opinion his female colleagues did not have as many growth opportunities as their male counterparts did.
Aliza Maqsood, a young lawyer who had recently completed her law degree, said that judicial reforms in the country were only possible if female lawyers played a more proactive role in lawyer’s politics and asserted the need for more women to contest bar elections.