On Thursday, Ethiopia’s parliament unanimously approved and appointed Meiza Ashenafi to head its Supreme Court. Meiza was nominated by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, who has taken numerous measures to increase women’s roles in Ethiopia. In response to Meiza’s appointment, Prime Minister Abiy’s Chief of Staff tweeted, “Ethiopia’s march towards gender parity in key leadership positions continues unabatedly.”
Meiza is a consistent champion of women’s rights and was a renowned human rights lawyer. Meiza has previously served as an advisor to the commission drafting Ethiopia’s new constitutions and as an advisor on gender and women’s rights to the UN Economic Commission for Africa. Moreover, Meiza founded the Ethiopian Women’s Lawyers Association and helped found the country’s all-women bank.
Meiza was a judge on Ethiopia’s High Court from 1989 to 1992. Her most famous case led to the outlawing of the Ethiopian tradition of kidnapping and forcing girls into marriage. The case involved a man kidnapping a 14-year-old girl and attempting to marry her against her will. In order to escape, the 14-year-old girl shot her kidnapper, but Meiza ruled against charging the young girl with murder.
Meiza’s appointment to head the Supreme Court is yet another major step forward for women’s empowerment in Ethiopia and the country’s gender equality movement. Last week, Ethiopia appointed Sahle-Work Zewde as its first female president, and she is currently the only female head of state in Africa. Two weeks ago, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed reshuffled the cabinet and appointed women to half of the cabinet positions.
Newswire Sources: The Washington Post 11/1; Feminist Newswire 10/29/18