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04 Women Pioneers

Other Women Pioneers

RACHEL ASHKENAZI:

She was the first woman lawyer in the community to practice in the High Court. She pleaded for Muslim women in Purdah.

STELLA BENJAMIN:

She received her Master’s degree from Calcutta University, taught at the Jewish Girls' School and joined the Bengal Chamber of Commerce. She was the first woman to hold an executive position there. She emigrated to England in the 1950’s.

RACHEL DUEK COHEN:

She was the first lady doctor in the Jewish community. Many followed in her footsteps. She enrolled in Calcutta Medical College in 1892 for L.M.S. and M.B courses and received a Government Scholarship of Rs. 20. She was attached to the Jewish Baby Welcome Clinic started by the Jewish Women’s League and worked for poor and destitute children. She emigrated to the UK in the 1930s.

REGINA GUHA: 

On completion of her Law degree, she applied to be a pleader at the Calcutta Bar in 1915. Her application went to the High Court of Calcutta where a four-judge bench had to determine whether “persons” admitted as “pleaders” included women.  The Chief Justice and four other judges refused her enrolment on the grounds that they had “no escape from the position that the Legislature in this country never contemplated the admission of women to the rank of Legal Practitioners (In Regina Guha (1916) 21 CWN 74 the Calcutta High Court). Her bid was followed in 1922 in Sudhangshu Bala Hazara (1922) ILR 1 Patna 104, where the Patna High Court held that women otherwise qualified were not entitled to be enrolled as Vakil or Pleader. The Allahabad High Court took the lead by enrolling Miss, Cornelia Sorabji as the first Indian lady Vakil of Allahabad High Court on August 24, 1921 by a decision of the English Committee of the Court (as the Administrative Committee was then called), consisting of Chief Justice Sir Grim Wood Meers.  To remove the doubts Legal Practitioners (Women) Act, 1923 declared that notwithstanding the Letters Patent of any High Court no woman shall be disqualified to be enrolled as legal practitioners.  Thus Regina Guha played a pioneering law for women in the law in India.