WOMEN CHIEF JUSTICES ACROSS AFRICA 

  • Mathilda Twomey

    Seychelles

    Chief Justice, 2015-2020

    Mathilda Twomey was the first woman to preside as Chief Justice over the Supreme Court of the Seychelles. She was appointed to the Supreme Court in 2015 to serve a five-year term. She was born in Mahe, Seychelles and educated at Seychelles College. Due to her diligence, she won a scholarship from the British Council to study law in Europe. She earned her law diploma at the University of Paris-Sud, Sceaux in 1985 and received a BA in both English and French law at the University of Kent at Canterbury in 1986. Shortly afterward, she was called to the Degree of the Utter Bar in Middle Temple, London in 1987 after studying in the Inns of Court School of Law. After receiving her degrees, Twomey returned to the Seychelles to practice at the Ocean Gate Law Center and the Attorney-General’s Chambers. In 1992, she and Pesi Pardiwalla, former Attorney General of the Seychelles, Twomey established the law firm Pardiwalla and Twomey to practice private law. She was also a member of the Constitutional Commission which drafted the new Constitution of Seychelles in 1993. Once the new constitution for the Seychelles was established, Twomey moved to Ireland to work in voluntary, community, and disability law. While working professionally, Twomey also attended the National University of Ireland Galway (NUIG) to receive a Master’s in Public Law in 2011. After receiving her master’s Twomey was appointed as the first female judge in the Seychelles to work on the Court of Appeals. While working on the Court of Appeals, she traveled back and forth from the Seychelles to Ireland to both advance her education at NUIG and act as a lecturer surrounding torts at NUIG. She eventually obtained a PhD in law from NUIG in 2015, the same year she was confirmed as Chief Justice of the Seychelles. She then stepped down from the Supreme Court of the Seychelles in 2020 after her single five-year term was completed.

  • Umu Hawa Tejan-Jalloh

    Sierra Leone

    Chief Justice, 2008-2015

    Umu Hawa Tejan-Jalloh was appointed and approved by the House of Parliament to act as the first woman Chief Justice for Sierra Leone. Her Lady Justice, Tejan-Jalloh was born in Sierra Leone and attended secondary school at the Harford Secondary School for Girls in Moyamba and the St. Edwards Secondary School in King Tom, Freetown. She then attended Fourah Bay College and Njala University to receive a Bachelor of Laws degree. She was called to the Bar in November 1974 and became a member of the Honourable Society of Gray’s Inn. She started her career as a State Counsel but would later be promoted to the post of Senior State Counsel and Principal State Counsel after that. She would be appointed as a High Court Judge in 1995. Tejan-Jalloh became a Fellow of the Commonwealth Judicial Institute in Halifax, Canada, in 2000 while serving as a High Court Judge. In 2004 she was promoted to the Appeals Court. In January 2007, her excellence in the judicial bench led her to be approved by the Parliament to become a Supreme Court Judge, one of the very few women in Sierra Leone to do so at that time, thus setting the stage for her eventual appointment as the Chief Justice. Uma Hawa Tejan has always been known to be a very exceptional judge. During her tenure as a High Court Judge, she gained a reputation for justly applying the law without fear or favor. Stories of her enduring harrowing journeys through risky highways under threats of rebel ambushes to held courts in northern Sierra Leone around the same time showed her commitment to serving the people of her nation in delivering justice. Her work has garnered her numerous awards and recognitions both in her native country as well as internationally. She was made an honorary citizen of Little Rock, the hometown of former American president Bill Clinton. She would then become a Goodwill Ambassador of the Arkansas. Tejan-Jalloh was also awarded the Grand Commander of the Order of the Rokel, one of the highest National Honours in Sierra Leone.

  • Nemat Abdullah Khair

    Sudan

    Chief Justice, 2019-

    Nemat Abdullah Khair is the Chief Justice for the Supreme Court of Sudan who serves as the head of the Sudanese judiciary. She is the first woman to serve as the Chief Justice for Sudan. She is originally from the state of Gezira in Sudan and was born in 1957. For her education, Khair went to Cairo University to receive a Bachelors in Law. Following her graduation, she became a member of the Sudanese judiciary in the 1980s. She worked in the Court of Appeals and the Court of First Instance in Sudan before joining the Supreme Court. She is also the founder of the Sudanese Judges Club. Khair was confirmed as the Chief Justice of Sudan in October 2019 after being selected by the Transitional Military Council and the Forces of Freedom and Change alliance.

  • Irene Chirwa Mambilima

    Zambia

    Chief Justice, 2015-

    Irene Chirwa Mambilima is Zambia’s first woman Chief Justice who was appointed on February 26, 2015. Justice Mambilima was educated at the University of Zambia, where she obtained a Bachelor of Laws degree. Following her baccalaureate education, she attended the University of London to receive her Master of Laws degree. Justice Mambilima was then admitted to the bar in 1977. Directly following her admittance to the bar, she served in the Attorney General’s office as a State Advocate and a Senior State Advocate from 1977 to 1984. She was simultaneously the Director of the Legal Aid Department in the Ministry of Legal Affairs, which has been renamed the Ministry of Justice. For her career beginnings, she joined the judiciary in Zambia in 1985 and served as a Commissioner for the High Court. In 1989, Justice Mambilima became the Judge of the High Court until 2002. Additionally, Justice Mambilima was appointed as the Judge-in-Charge for the Lusaka High Court in 1996 and subsequently, Judge-in-Charge of the High Court Commercial List in 2000. From 1994 until 1996, she was concurrently a member of the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ). It was in 2000 that she was appointed to be a Judge of the Supreme Court though she was not ratified and confirmed until 2002. In 2003, Justice Mambilima became a Sessional Judge for the Supreme Court of The Gambia for one year. Between 2005 and 2015, Justice Mambilima became the Chairperson for the ECZ twice and presided over the 2006, 2011, and 2015 elections respectively. Justice Mambilima served as the Deputy Chief Justice for the Republic of Zambia from 2008 to 2015. Following her time as Deputy Chief Justice, she was elected to the position of Chief Justice for the Supreme Court in the Republic of Zambia in 2015 and continues to serve in this role. In addition to her professional life, Justice Mambilima is the Chairperson for the Zambian Council of Law Reporting, a board member for the Child Fund Zambia Board, and also previously served on the Advisory Board for Women in Law Southern Africa.

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