Times are changing and yes world-wide revolution is taking place in terms of hierarchy of power and gladly so. Thankfully, Ethiopia, a highly patriarchal society is gradually moving with the times. Picture the applaud worthy transformative leadership move by the country’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, filling 50 percent of his cabinet with female ministers, and let’s not also forget Ethiopia’s first female president Sahle-Work Zewde, elected unanimously in 2018.
Ethiopian women are breaking shackles of sexism and gender disparities, actively stepping up and earning their rightful place as innovators and change makers, accomplishing great feats in several sectors and transforming their world.
Today we zoom in on a piooneering law expert proudly taking her place amongst the most powerful women in Ethiopia, Meaza Ashenafi, first federal female Chief Justice of Ethiopia. Driven by the need to always fight against discrimination and speak up against injustice around her, the 57 year old power woman who sights her mom as her source of her strength pursued a career in Law.
Highly reputed and praised as a women’s rights advocate – an active member of several women’s rights advocacy organizations, a child rights and human rights advocate with immense contributions to show, Ashenafi is co-founder of the Ethiopian Women Lawyers’ Association (EWLA) and founder of women’s bank (Enat Bank), both groundbreaking groups aimed at empowering marginalised women financially, legally and socially, has in no small measure changed the dynamism of things, inspiring the next generation of women lawyers in Ethiopia.
The leading expert who looks towards restoring faith of the public on the judiciary has helmed several comprehensive judicial reformative programs keying from her leadership at the Federal Supreme Court.
Meaza Ashenafi, founder and first Executive Director of the Ethiopian Women Lawyers Association (EWLA), currently serves as an adviser on gender and women’s rights in the Capacity Development Division of UNECA.
Following her tireless advocacy for the promotion of women’s rights, unrelenting passion for change, commendable philanthropy and inspiring leadership, the Ethiopian Chief Justice has gained prominence beyond the shores of Africa to the international world bagging several awards and accolades including the coveted Hunger Project African Leadership Prize laureate.
The ever inspiring Ashenafi who was amongst the first group of women to join law school in Ethiopia, received a Bachelor of Laws (LL.B.). In 2005 she received a scholarship from UNESCO for post-graduate studies in the United States where she studied International Relations at the University of Connecticut bagging a Master of Arts (M.A.) degree
She is married to Dr. Araya Asfaw, Professor of physics and former Dean of the science faculty in Addis Ababa University. The pair met while working in EWLA.