Is gender neutrality common in the legal field?

In Present
September 28, 2021

In India, gender inequality has led to unequal opportunities since times immemorial. While it affects both men and women, girls are statistically the most affected.

Girls have higher birth survival rates and are more likely to be developmentally on track. They are just as likely to attend preschool as boys across the globe, yet India is the only large country where more girls die than boys. Girls are also more likely than boys to drop out. 

 In 2011, World Economic Forum (WEF) released the Global Gender Gap Report. India was rated 113 out of 135 nations on the Gender Gap Index (GGI). Since then, India’s GGI rating has improved to 105/136 in 2013, according to the WEF. 

This improvement is the result of increasing awareness about this sorry state of affairs. Many NGOs and organisations have worked towards gender neutrality and upliftment of girl child in India. We can achieve this goal in some simple ways, where education is the most important of all. For accomplishing this goal, some government and private schemes provide scholarships (even globally). 

Concerning our context, 

Let’s talk about some scholarships for women in the field of Law globally:

  • The American Bar Association (ABA) Legal Opportunity Fund awards $15,000 to 20 students to help them pay for law school. Individual funds from the ABA are also available to law schools for summer internships with organisations such as Legal Aid Service. You might be able to get a $3,000 to $4,000 award for taking up this type of job.
  • Women’s Research and Education Institute Congressional Fellowship on Women and Public Policy is a $1,450 monthly stipend for a women’s policy fellowship. The goal of this group is to place over 300 fellows in Washington, D.C. congressional, offices.
  • Australian Federation of Women Scholarships & Fellowships programme encourages and supports young women studying Law in another country. The Freda Bage Fellowship is a three-year fellowship offered by the organisation.
  • The American-Scandinavian Foundation is a non-profit organisation based in the United States and contributes more than $500,000 to its researchers’ legal study and teaching.

Steps that are taken by Indian Universities to aid legal education in women:

  • Project Shakti:

The University of Petroleum and Energy Studies (UPES) designated 2020 as the Year of Girl Empowerment. The University has announced an unconditional 25% scholarship to all girl students applying for all UG and PG courses through Project Shakti. They aim to equip girls with quality education and training to boost their participation across all levels of the legal field.

  • 30% quota for girls:

National Law Universities like NLSIU Bangalore, NALSAR Hyderabad, NLIU Bhopal, NUJS Kolkata, HNLU Raipur, and NLU Jodhpur took a step ahead towards making Law a gender-neutral field. They horizontally reserved 30% of the total seats under the women’s quota in 2008. 

  • Current scenario:
  1. National Law Universities like NALSAR Hyderabad, NLIU Bhopal, HNLU Raipur, GNLU Gandhinagar, RMNLU Lucknow, CNLU Patna (women of backward classes of Bihar), DSNLU Visakhapatnam, MNLU Mumbai, and Aurangabad have horizontal women reservations in both UG and PG courses for creating a level playing ground for everyone.
  2. Only AIL Mohali, KIIT Bhubaneswar, and SLS Pune have more than 47% female undergraduate students, including three- and five-year degrees where applicable.
  3. Only NLIU Bhopal had a better ratio of 46 per cent women to men than the other NLUs, with nearly all others falling below the 40 per cent mark.
  4. NLU Delhi, NALSAR Hyderabad, NLU Jodhpur, RMLNLU Lucknow, RGNUL Patiala, CNLU Patna, NLSIU Bangalore, and NUJS Kolkata only had 38 per cent to 40 per cent women in their LLB programmes.
  5. BHU Varanasi, with only 19 per cent of UG law students being female, and IIT Kharagpur, and most IITs, with only 34 per cent, was by far the lowest performer on this parameter. 

These statistics point towards the still existing gender disparity in the legal field. With the constant efforts of various NGOs, organisations, and universities, we can make India a country with equal opportunities and representation by students of all genders. 

The legal fraternity is making constant efforts to achieve gender neutrality. Let’s hope for the best over the coming years.

(NOTE: This article focuses on inequality amongst only the women population of the country as well as on global levels. This is in reference to the availability of statistics and research concerning the same.)



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