Chander Mani Chopra Sowl - India

As SOWL-India's senior-most founding member, Mrs. Chandermani Chopra has been a guiding light and mentor to the initiative from the start. A senior advocate with the Delhi High Court and the Supreme Court of India, Mrs. Chopra has been an active member of the legal profession for the last 45 years. She has also, in recent years, been a Central Government pleader and has handled service matters of the Central Translation Bureau of the Ministry of Home Affairs. In recent years, Mrs. Chopra has also focused on preparing the next generation of legal professionals - she has been a Visiting Fellow at Delhi University's prestigious law faculty, and a Guest Lecturer in the Faculty of Business Management and Industrial Relations, University of Delhi, teaching law to female students and preparing them to be effective business executives.
Mrs. Chopra has, throughout her career, been actively engaged in the cause of women's rights. She has been Legal Advisor to the Delhi Social Welfare Board; was Convenor of the Free Legal Aid Committee of the Indian Council of Legal Aid and Advisory Board; and has also worked for several years with grassroots women's groups including Saheli, Karmika and Sanjeevni. For more than 10 years Mrs. Chopra has been involved with the All India Women's Conference.
Mrs. Chopra has written several papers on women and the law and on women's and children's right and spoken on these topics at several fora, including, on several occasions in the All India Seminars organised by the National Institute of Public Cooperation and Child Development; and at several symposia organized for the IFWL. For the last several years she has also addressed several camps on legal literacy and has also prepared a paper on the rights of the girl child for the National Council of Education Research and Training.
She was also one of the earliest supporters of the Indian Federation of Women Lawyers (IFWL), the first organization of women lawyers in India and a guiding light for SOWL-India. She served as Secretary of IFWL, Delhi Branch from 1954-66, 1958-70 and its Vice President from 1975-77 and President 1980-81.
As a woman practicing at the bar at a time when very few women entered the legal profession, Mrs. Chopra has always been interested in the cause of women lawyers and has mentored and guided several of the younger women lawyers who have gone on to become successful practitioners in their own right. Not just as one of the very few women in the senior ranks of the Supreme Court and the Delhi High Court, but also because of her work with IFWL and All India Women's Conference, Mrs. Chopra has seen at first hand the invisible glass ceiling that prevents women from reaching the top of the profession. It is for this reason that she has actively encouraged, supported and advised the other founding members in the founding of SOWL-India. In the words of Mrs. Chopra, "I have seen the profession change in its attitude towards women in the last 45 years. It is my duty to see that this change continues, and the status of women in the law continuously improves."