|Biographical detail : ||A pioneering lawyer and campaigner who created jobs for India’s poor.
Kamila after practising law in London – a lucrative practice with a focus on insurance issues – for 25 years went home to India to set up the Women’s India Trust (WIT), a charity providing women with training and employment.
Kamila Tyabji is thought to have been the first Muslim woman to go to Oxford to read law in 1936. She was the first woman lawyer to argue a case before the Privy Council.
In her private life, being unmarried, she formed a loose-knit commune of upper-class intellectuals living in the greater comfort of London’s posh Park Lane. Her zest for life, elegance and forthrightness was her hallmark, whether in her ferocity at the bridge table, her intellectual curiosity or her impeccable instinct for the vagaries of the stock market, studied intently every day with her morning cup of tea.
During the Bihar famine (1965-66) she went there and trekked around the state with social activist J P Narayan and helped with his relief work. The result was the WIT into which she poured her money and her energy from its foundation in 1968 that was based in Bombay.
Kamila Tyabji did represent India on the UN commission into the status of women, and helped draft its declaration of rights for women. She was also part of a five-strong committee for International Women’s Year.
Tyabji continued to write regularly, from her first and highly influential study of Limited Interests In Muhammadan Law (1949) to studies of reform of Islamic law.
Kamila Tyabji was born in Bombay in the family of prominent lawyers.