Appointment of a woman as President of the Supreme Court of Ethiopia


Ms. Meaza Ashenafi, an Ethiopian lawyer specializing in women’s rights, was appointed on 1 November 2018 by the House of Peoples’ Representatives as the new and first-ever president of the Federal Supreme Court.

A few days after the election on 25 October of Sahle-Work Zewde as the first woman president of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia and the establishment of a joint government of ten women and ten men, Meaza Ashenafi was appointed to the highest court of the country, during the 4th ordinary session, on the proposal of the Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed.

This native, in 1964, from the Asosa region of Benishangul-Gumuz, located one hundred kilometers from the capital, obtained her first law degree from Addis Ababa University and her master’s degree in international relations on “women in the public decision-making “of the American University of Kentucky, before occupying several positions including judge of the High Court of Ethiopia, legal adviser or member of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa.

But in Ethiopia, Ashenafi is far from being a simple lawyer. This new president of the Supreme Court has been fighting for years for the rights of women in her country. With the few female lawyers graduating in Ethiopia in 1995, she founded the Ethiopian Association of Women Lawyers (EWLA). In 2011, she surrounded herself with 10 powerful Ethiopians to launch the first women-focused bank, Enat Bank, to help them access credit and become more self-reliant.

But it is by choosing to represent, in 1996, a girl of 14 years that Ashenafi will mark the spirits of the Ethiopians. The girl had killed her rapist who had kidnapped her to marry her, according to the country’s traditions. Thanks to this affair, Meaza Ashenafi will even contribute to the ban in 2004 of these traditional kidnappings called “Telefa”.

In 2003, Ashenafi received the Hunger Project Award, whose goal is to eradicate hunger in the world, and was nominated in 2005 for the Nobel Peace Prize for his fight for women’s rights and equality genres.

It should be noted that the President of the Supreme Court chairs at the same time the Council of the Constitutional Inquiry of Ethiopia which is a member of the CJCA since 2017

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