Indian American attorney leads New York City Bar’s HR body

Ramya Jawahar Kudekallu
Ramya Jawahar Kudekallu; photo credit: Cardozo Law

First woman of color to hold the post, Kudekallu hopes to make it a diverse, multicultural and inclusive body.

Bengaluru, India,-born Ramya Jawahar Kudekallu is all set to lead New York City Bar’s International Human Rights Committee making it a diverse, multicultural and inclusive body, prioritizing HR issues and advocacy approaches.

One of the youngest and first woman of color to be appointed chairperson of one of the largest associations of lawyers in the US, Kudekallu, 32, considers her appointment as a “huge honor.”

But it’s “equally, an indication that the New York City Bar, stands to benefit from a membership that is diverse, multicultural and inclusive,” she told the Times of India.

Kudekallu said she’s excited to work with lawyers dedicated to the promotion and protection of human rights globally apart from ensuring there is a call to action on these issues in the US.

After schooling in Bengaluru, Ooty and Dubai, Kudekallu studied law in Bishop Cotton Women’s Christian Law College, Bengaluru. She did her masters in International Law and Human Rights at Fordham University, New York and currently teaches at Cardozo Law School, New York.

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“There are several committees within the Bar that focus on various aspects of the law. It’s particularly meaningful to be in this because I’ve had a long association with this field,” Kudekallu said.

“My role as chair allows me to guide and prioritize different human rights matters, advocacy approaches and questions of law within my committee,” she said.

Engaging in community service was ingrained by my family, said Kudekallu. “I was taught not to ignore problems of society and, more importantly, I must reflect on my own role and privilege.”

“Studying at a law college for women helped me better understand applying a gender lens to the law,” she added.

“The committee did not have a woman of color as the chairperson all these days,” Kudekallu said in another media interview. “They have also picked a non-white young woman. I am ready to take risks involved with this responsibility.

“Fighting for human rights is always challenging, whether it is in India or anywhere. New York is comparatively safer,” she said.

Kudekallu’s mother, Dr. Amitha Malaki, a gynecologist, currently lives in Kushalnagar, Kodagu. Her father, Jawahar Kudekallu, a practising advocate in Bengaluru, passed away in July. “Her father would have been very proud of Ramya’s achievement,” said Dr Malaki.

Kudekallu also worked with the Alternative Law Forum in Bengaluru in 2014 and worked for the rights and justice for Bengaluru’s pourakarmikas, street vendors, transgenders, sex workers and their children, she said.

NYC Bar’s International Human Rights Committee follows legal developments, including the passage of new legislation and policies and investigates and analyzes legal developments and their impact on the full enjoyment of human rights, according to its website.

The Committee also monitors cases where lawyers are prevented from performing all of their professional functions through intimidation, hindrance, harassment or improper interference, or suffer or are threatened with prosecution or other sanctions are a result of their work.

As part of its work, the Committee sponsors human rights speakers and events. It aims to promote the role of lawyers, judges, and other jurists in the promotion of human rights in their individual countries, and regularly meets with prominent bar associations and other leading legal professionals.

The Committee also engages with other individuals and organizations working on human rights, including governmental and non-governmental groups and individuals, as well as intergovernmental organizations and advocacy groups.


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