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Gauri Kumari’s journey to becoming the first ever woman Vice President of highly male-dominated Munger Bar Council proves that women across sectors, intersections of castes, creed and religion can overthrow patriarchy and shine bright. Munger Bar Council on Monday announced their first ever female Vice President with Kumari—a position that had eight male candidates contesting for it, Kumari being the only female one.

“It is a very big win for our Dalit women community. Not just in Munger but from the entire state, when people from upper caste, the judges in Munger Bar Council say that a woman contested the election for VP from a general seat who is also a Dalit, it is historic, it feels like a real victory,”Gauri told SheThePeople.TV.

The organisation which has been functional since 1887 never saw a single woman in prominent position until Kumari took charge and that’s telling of our regional bar councils of India as it is of the higher level bar councils running in the country.

It took me some courage to contest for the position of VP since it is a general seat but then a large number of people voted me in.

“It took me some courage to contest for the position of VP since it is a general seat but then a large number of people voted me in. Apart from being the first woman, I am also the first Dalit woman to become the VP. No woman ever had even contested for the position so I thought why can’t I at least try?” Kumari added.

She has been working with All India Dalit Mahila Adhikar Manch since 2008 and has been actively mobilising voices of Dalit women in the state. The 43-year-old lawyer has been practising in the Munger civil court as an advocate for 19 years now and was also appointed as a Special Public Prosecutor. Her parents died when she was really young, so she took the responsibility of her younger siblings upon herself and worked hard towards educating them and herself. She is a double graduate in Law from Bhagalpur University.

Gauri Kumari
Lawyer Gauri Kumari

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“I have worked actively in cases pertaining to juvenile justice and when the Juvenile Justice Act was constituted, I also became Bihar’s first Dalit woman to become a member of the Juvenile court. I worked for six years continuously for juvenile justice,” said Gauri, who also battles physical disability as she faces difficulty in walking.

It is a very big win for our Dalit women community. Not just in Munger but  from the entire state, when people from upper caste, the judges in Munger Bar Council say that a woman contested the election for VP from a general seat who is also a Dalit, it is historic, it feels like a real victory

Over the years, she has fought many cases in the court against atrocities towards Dalits. Talking about empowerment of Dalit women, she said, “Particularly in Bihar, I and few other Dalit women activists who are also a part of AIDMAM have worked extensively in skilling and training women. As compared to a decade ago, Dalit women today are extensively empowered.”

Gauri’s energy in conventions and Dalit meets is a sight to behold. Her energy never shrinks even as the realities of Dalit women empowerment still lag far behind. We need to retain these women in our system to create intersectional inclusivity.

Picture credit- Gauri Kumari

More Stories by Poorvi Gupta

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