The Sindh High Court finally has a fully functioning ‘ladies common room’

The Sindh High Court finally got a common room for women after nearly two years of lobbying by women litigators.

The CEO of Women Lawyers’ Association, Zahrah Sehr Vayani, took to facebook to share this news.

She wrote:

“I wanted to share something very close to my heart. I am a lawyer and one of the founding members of the Women Lawyer’s Association. The Sindh High Court did not have a separate space for women. All we had was a small smelly bathroom which was located next to some extremely old pipes. Nearly two years ago we decided that we would ask for a space for women which would work as a prayer room as well as a common room. The reason behind the space was not to divide the bar room (mixed) or to segregate men and women. It was in fact for women to have a prayer room within the premises and the option of removing their hijabs /coats and take a breather before heading out for their respective cases. This was also formed to cater to pregnant women who could not sit in the bar room due to it being a smoking area . The aim was to try and use it as a child/day care in the future if allowed.

We struggled for nearly a year and a half, ran after the official representatives of the Bar and had numerous meetings with the Sitting Chief Justice at that time . We were usually sent off on a wild goose chase by the representatives or given reasons like “why do women need a separate space ” ” you are dividing the bar ” “women will conduct indecent activities” etc.

The chairman of the Women Lawyers’ Association and I ( CEO) with the backing of our amazing Committee Members got over a hundred signatures of female litigators to support our cause.

We even approached the male members and many barristers sided with us in our struggle. We were relentless and after many arguments and a lot of hardship I am proud to announce that we did it ! For the first time in history the Sindh High Court has a Ladies Common room which is fully functioning. I felt the need to share this post because a lot of women are scared of joining the profession especially litigation. Now not only do we have an Association to help and support young female lawyers but we also have managed to finally get our own space where we can conduct training sessions to help and promote female litigators. I hope this sets an example for the future generations . All that is required is perseverance and belief in ones goals.

#womenempowerement #womenlawyersassociation #wedidit #WLA@saramalkani @zaratariq @amberlakhani @samanimtiaz @summaiyazaidi Maria Ahmad Alizeh Bashir Zahrah Sehr Vayani @sanav”

Sara Malkani, the Chairman of the Women Lawyers’ Association and one of the lawyers who spearheaded the initiative shared with Dawn.com, “When we travelled to Balochistan, India or even Lahore, Quetta, Pindi and Islamabad for work, we realized that all those courts have a separate bar room for women. Even the lower court of Karachi had one, so why not us?”

“The main reason we all thought it was necessary is because we feel the profession needs to be more welcoming and accommodating towards women for further occupational development in an otherwise male-dominated profession. Like, there are no sitting female judges in the Sindh High Court at the moment!” stated Sara.

The women approached more women litigators who joined the cause and by the end of it, they had a proposal letter signed by nearly 200 female and male litigators. “That was proof that this was not just a random brainchild of ours. It’s bigger than just us, it’s what people wanted, it’s about women’s rights,” stated Zahrah.

The bar room is up; it officially opened its doors this month and Vayani hopes “that the Bar Association realizes that women are a part of the legal community too and that we can handle more authority.”

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