Banda. In the Banda Tehsil compound, among rows and rows of male lawyers and notaries, sits one lone woman. It is hard to miss her: even in the mandatory black and white, she sticks out in a profession and an area dominated by men. 51-year old Divyabala is a private lawyer in Banda town.
‘I have been practising law for over 10 years now. It’s been a long journey. When I got married and came to live in my husband’s home, my in-laws did not want me to work. My father-in-law, a farmer, was very strict. Women in the house had to abide by many social norms and weren’t allowed to step out of the house. I had to fight it out with them so I could practise law. My father, a lawyer, had educated me and I did not want my degree to go waste. With some support from my husband, I moved out of my in-laws’ house. That’s when I finally began practising as a lawyer in the Tehsil in Banda.’
When her daughters were born, Divyabala made it a point that they got an education and did not have to abide by conventional social norms. ‘The discrimination between sons and daughters is often ignored. I wanted to fight it. My daughters never had to put up with restrictions on what they eat or how they dress.’
Today, Divyabala’s in-laws live with her and are proud of her. She is often cited as a role model for younger people in the family. ‘On this Women’s Day, I hope more and more people celebrate it and share it with those who don’t know about it. I want that women who work hard day and night also feel, even if for a day, that they are free and special.’
First in a special series of conversations, leading up to Women’ Day. For more stories, click here