Writer Anshumi Jhaveri meets with Judge Juli Mathew : The First Elected Asian American woman in Fort Bend County and a strong advocate for the rise of women in politics and encouraging young girls to use their voice.
By: Anshumi Jhaveri
The only female in the room.
This is an experience Judge Juli Mathew has faced many times in her career. Throughout her experience in the legal field, Judge Mathew has seen situations with only one woman in the room to courts full of female attorneys and she would like to keep this momentum on the rise.
Judge Mathew is an immigrant from Kerala, India, and believes that her South Asian heritage has uniquely impacted to getting where she is now, which is the first elected Asian American Woman in her county. She grew up seeing resilience in the Indian community, whether it came from her father who worked hard to start a life for her family in the United States, or just in the daily lifestyle of Indians. The Judge strongly thinks that this powerful trait should be applied in the world of justice and emphasized when it comes to voting and elections. She whole heartedly believes that "your vote is your voice" and that the voices of minority communities should be amplified and heard in a world where these same voices are usually shut down.
When the Judge first started out campaigning, she was constantly told that she was on the losing side, and that she would not be able to make it far in the election. People didn't take her seriously, and spread constant negativity surrounding her and her goals. Apart from the fact that there were barely any other people of color as her opposition, it was most saddening for Judge Mathew to see her own community stand behind the campaigns of brown men of color, and not show the same support or resources for women of color in the elections.
After defying the odds and proving everyone wrong, Juli Mathew became someone whose name will be remembered in Fort Bend County, for being the first Indian Judge their courts have ever seen. Even after attaining this honor, the Judge continues to face strong judgements and scrutiny for every action she takes- whether it be how she raises her child, or her facebook posts. This form of targeting is a problem that men in positions of power are never confronted with, and the Judge deals with this gender bias everyday.
"You have to make sacrifices", Judge Mathew said. Being targeted for being a female of color is 'one of the whole reasons that I'm out here, doing what I'm doing' so that one day seeing women in power is not an anomaly, but a norm. Not just within the Indian community, but in all communities. Right now, the Judge has a busy schedule with her three daughters who she's teaching to be fearless, overseeing dockets, and maintaining the responsibilities of a judge-- but I know she is changing the way the world views women, one step at a time.