First woman chief justice sworn in for Ethiopia

For the first time in the country's history, Ethiopia has a woman chief justice. Meaza Ashenafi was sworn in as the head of the Federal Supreme Court today, 1 November 2018. She had been nominated by Ethiopia's Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed. Ashenafi, the founder of the Ethiopian Women Lawyers Association, is widely regarded for her work as a human rights activist.  

The swearing-in ceremony of Meaza Ashenafi as Ethiopia's first woman chief justice was immediately given significant coverage, with the Washington Post, for example, running a story headed, "Women’s rights activist named to head Ethiopia’s Supreme Court in new reform".

The newspaper characterises the appointment as part of Ethiopia's "move to empower women".  Backing up this view of major changes in Ethiopia, AfricaNews ran a story pointing out that just last week the country appointed its first female president, Sahle-Work Zewde, who had previously served as top United Nations official to the African Union. And the week before that, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed presented a new-look cabinet with 10 men - and 10 women. Among the positions given to women ministers were the "sensitive portfolios" of Defence and of Peace.

Movie-goers will surely now want to see a film about Ashenafi's work whose executive producer was Hollywood star, Angelina Jolie. The movie concerned Ashenafi's most famous case. Entitled "Difret", the 2014 Ethiopian film won the World Cinematic Dramatic Audience Award at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival. Based on a court case tried by Ashenafi, the film celebrates the results of the case: the tradition of kidnapping child brides was outlawed in Ethiopia.