Ethiopia swears in first female Supreme Court chief

Meaza Ashenafi previously founded the Ethiopian Women Lawyers Association and served on the High Court. File Photo by Papillon pierre/Wikimedia

Nov. 1 (UPI) — Ethiopia swore in its first female president of the Federal Supreme Court, the latest in the prime minister’s efforts to institute gender equality among a number of government posts, on Thursday.

The House of Peoples Representatives unanimously approved Meaza Ashenafi as the new chief of the Supreme Court after he nomination by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed. The legislative body also approved Solomon Areda as vice president of the Supreme Court.

Meaza has a reputation as a supporter of women’s rights — she founded the Ethiopian Women Lawyers Association and the country’s first women’s bank. She previously served on the High Court, a lower judicial body, and was an adviser for the U.N. Economic Commission for Africa.

“Ethiopia’s march towards gender parity in key leadership positions continues unabatedly,” Abiy’s chief of staff, Fitsum Arega, wrote on Twitter.

Abiy, who was elected in April, formed a Cabinet in October that was half women. Though women have been in the Cabinet before in minor positions, this is the first time in Ethiopia’s history women have been seated in top security posts.

The push for gender equality is among several progressive moves that Abiy has made to modernize the once-authoritarian country since he took office earlier this year. He also released thousands of political prisoners, made peace with Eritrea by enforcing a dormant peace agreement over a turf war and promised competitive elections in 2020.


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