#LLABlog – Meet Meaza Ashenafi, The First Female Chief Justice in Ethiopian History

Meaza Ashenafi


Meaza Ashenafi Mengistu is the first woman in Ethiopian history to become the President of the Federal Supreme Court (Chief Justice). She is well-known as a women’s rights advocate who has made immense contributions, among other things, as the co-founder of the Ethiopian Women Lawyers’ Association (EWLA) and founder of women’s bank (Enat Bank).

In 1993, she was recruited as a researcher and advisor for the Human Rights Committee of the Ethiopian Constitution Drafting Commission, a body in charge of drafting the current constitution. In 1995, she co-founded Ethiopian Women Lawyers’ Association (EWLA) together with Atsedewoyin Tekle and other women lawyers. It started its operations the following year and Meaza served as the Executive Director of the association for eight years. 

EWLA’s mission is to promote the economic, political, social, and legal rights of women and to that end assist them to secure full protection of their rights under the Constitution of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia and other international human rights conventions. After EWLA, Meaza became the acting director of Inter-Africa Group which, among other things, facilitated the debates between different political parties in the 2002 Ethiopian national election. In 2005 she received a scholarship from UNESCO for post-graduate studies in the USA where she studied International Relations at the University of Connecticut. 

Starting from 2011, Meaza became an adviser to the Gender and Social Policy Development Department of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) for about six years. While working at the UNECA, Meaza volunteered to work for the establishment of the first women’s bank, Enat Bank together with other women. Meaza was selected to be the chair of the Board of Directors until the time she was appointed as chief justice in 2018. Throughout the years, Meaza Ashenafi has gained domestic and international recognition for her tireless work in promoting women’s rights in Ethiopia and receiving numerous awards for philanthropy and leadership.


This article was culled from African Women In Law.


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