Human rights lawyer Meaza Ashenafi was sworn in as Ethiopia’s first female head of the Supreme Court on Thursday.
Rabat- Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed announced the latest appointment signaling his continued push for more female representation in the country’s top leadership positions.
Just last week, Ethiopia swore in the country’s first female president, Sahle-Work Zewde.
Meaza previously served as a high court judge in Ethiopia, going on to found the Ethiopian Women Lawyers Association. She was also an advisor on gender and women’s rights at the UN Economic Commission for Africa.
Abiy Ahmed’s chief of staff praised Meaza’s appointment, saying, “She brings a track record of competence and relevant experience to the role.”
Meaza’s name gained international notoriety for a 1996 court case which was later turned into the movie “Difret” written and directed by Zeresenay Mehari and produced by Angelina Jolie.
Difret tells the true story of Aberash Bekele who, in 1996, at the age of 14, was kidnapped as she returned from school by a man who intended to marry her. In an attempt to escape her captor, Aberash shot and killed him, leading her to be charged with murder.
Meaza represented the girl in court pro bono and succeeded in getting the charges dropped. The trial set off a debate in Ethiopia regarding the tradition of kidnapping for marriage.
In presenting her nomination, Ahmed said Meaza had the background needed to improve the court’s implementation of reforms and justice in the country. Ethiopia’s Parliament approved her nomination unanimously.