Kavya Sharma reflects on decades of groundbreaking work done by Lady Hale.
24.09.2019. This is a day that will be etched in history. This is a day that created widespread political uncertainty, a day that has led to two white, upper class, right-wing men to utter confusion as to how their ambitions and plans have been massively disrupted. Both caused publicly by two strong, equally ambitious and talented women – Lady Hale, and Nancy Pelosi; one of which is very close to our hearts. The former Chancellor of Bristol University.
I see Lady Hale as an inspiration – and not just because of her very impressive brooch collection. From being the very first woman President of the Supreme Court in 2017, to simply the passion she has shown for her legal profession since its very embryonic stages. So let me tell you why, in three powerful ways…
- She has defied gender stereotypes
Lady Hale has always fought an uphill battle when launching her law career in an exceptionally male-dominated sector. From being the first person from her school to be admitted to Cambridge University, to being one of only six women out of 116 law students. This did not stop her, but motivated her as she excelled to gaining a first in her degree.
Even now, she is a female phenomenon. The first woman President of the Supreme Court, the first woman appointed to the Law Commission, the second woman appointed to the Court of Appeal, and the first woman Lord of Appeal in Ordinary.
Lady Hale has been committed to the cause of diversifying the judiciary, and this positive, resilient outlook has ensured her success.
- She has reformed judicial practice
Lady Hale has been involved in the most controversial and extraordinary legal cases of our time, such as the best interests case of Charlie Gard in 2017. Her involvement in the Law Commission meant that she has been involved in incredible reform to family law – most notably, the Children Act 1989, making children the centre of decision making in order to protect their rights.
- She is not scared of the F-word
Lady Hale is a feminist. A proud feminist. This has allowed her to question tradition and oppose some of the bureaucracy within the justice system. She has spoken against the wearing of wigs in court: the idea of women acting as men; not women acting as women. Most importantly, she has spoken for the promotion of talented women and hiring based on merit, not on the basis of sex or nepotism.
Omnia Feminae Aequissimae. Women are equal to everything. This is the motto of Lady Hale, and one that I believe, ought to be embraced by Bristol University and beyond. Lady Hale is part of our collective history, and hopefully her ideals will be part of our collective future.
Artwork by Maegan Farrow.