Ambiga Sreenevasan is a Malaysian lawyer known for her pursuit of judicial reform, religious tolerance, and women’s equality. In 2007, Sreenevasan was elected president of the Malaysian Bar Council. In this role, she has fought an uphill battle for gender equality and is also an advocate of freedom of religion. Sreenevasan received the 2009 U.S. Secretary of State’s International Women of Courage Award. She chaired the Bersih 2.0 rally, a civic movement devoted to free and fair elections in Malaysia that organized a rally of 20,000 people in Kuala Lumpur in July 2011.
Sreenevasan earned an LLB from the University of Exeter and co-founded her own law firm, Sreenevasan, Advocates & Solicitors. In 2002, she became the vice president of the Malaysian Intellectual Property Association. She joined the Malaysian Bar Council as chairperson of the Intellectual Property Sub-Committee in 2005. She currently serves on the executive committee of the Women’s Aid Organization and works with the Bar Council Special Committee on issues related to the Orang Isli, Malaysia’s indigenous inhabitants.
As the second female president in the history of the Malaysian Bar Council, Sreenevasan organized a “March for Justice" to demand judicial reform in Malaysia. She advocated for the rule of law during her tenure and condemned the political arrests of two journalists.
In addition to heading the Bersih 2.0 movement for clean and fair elections, Sreenevasan is also an advocate for gender equality in Malaysia. She successfully fought to amend the Malaysian Constitution to ensure that women’s testimony carried equal weight to that of men in courts. For her work, she has received threats and calls for her arrest and has been the target of attacks.
In 2011, the French ambassador to Malaysia granted the Legion of Honor insignia to Sreenevasan in recognition of her work in defense of human rights.