Meaza Ashenafi appointed Ethiopia’s first female Chief Justice

Meaza Ashenafi appointed Ethiopia's first female Chief Justice
New Ethiopia head of Supreme Court Meaza Ashenafi being sworn in PHOTO: AfricaNews

In Summary

  • Meaza Ashenafi was on Thursday morning sworn in as the first woman head of Supreme Court in Ethiopia.
  • She, like president Sahle-Work was nominated to the position by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, who also appointed 10 members to his 20-member cabinet.
  • Many have commended the country for the new wave of appointing women to key leadership positions.

Ethiopia’s legislative chamber, the House of Peoples Representatives unanimously approved the nomination of Meaza Ashenafi as the first female head of the Supreme Court, and Chief Justice.

The 54-year-old Human Rights advocate, who was sworn in on Thursday morning, was nominated by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed.

The Prime Minister has been on the forefront of championing female representation in his government. His 20-member cabinet has ten women and ten men.

Fitsum Arega the Chief of Staff Prime Minister’s office tweeted hailing Meaza’s “competence and relevant experience.”


Ethiopia has once again defied patriarchy after swearing in its first female president, Sahle-Work Zewde last week.

Meaza, who was a Nobel Peace Prize nominee in 2015, has served as a judge in Ethiopia’s High Court and is renown for working on pro bono cases to serve the less fortunate in society, especially women and children.

She founded the Ethiopian Women Lawyers Association, EWLA.

A case she presided over before was turned into a film. The film titled ‘Difret’, gained traction, being promoted and produced by Hollywood’s Angelina Jolie, and awarded the World Cinematic Dramatic Audience Award 2014.

The case involved 14-year-old Aberash Bekele, who was charged with murder. Bekele killed a man who kidnapped her with the intention of marrying her.

Presiding over the case, Meaza managed to drop the murder charges against the girl, sparking debate over a long time tradition of kidnapping girls for marriage in Ethiopia.

This resulted in outlawing the long time tradition, and the birthing of the film.

She is to be deputised by International Criminal Court judge, Solomon Areda.

Many have commended the new trajectory of appointing women to key leadership positions in Ethiopia.

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