Founding Consultant, Apex Lawconsult, Ghana.

Sheila Minkah-Premo

I have always been interested in law and development especially on women and children’s rights. My master’s in law (LL.M) on Women’s Human Rights got me interested in policy and research. I have been involved in coordinating a number of legal research projects. In 2007, I submitted my application to coordinate a research project on the “Ascertainment of Customary Law on Land and Family in Ghana.” This application proved to be a challenge in the beginning because it was perceived as a “male-led” project. In the view of some of the selection committee members, it was undesirable to have a woman coordinating it. I was shortlisted and interviewed by the Steering Committee for the Project— consisting of an all-male panel made up of chiefs and a number of senior judges.

The panel seemed uncertain about a woman coordinating their project and indicated that it was not a “gender” project and they were not sure I could handle it. I had previously coordinated other projects for a development agency, so their member on the panel convinced the Steering Committee to give me an opportunity to coordinate this project. I was selected to manage the project which came to a successful end with the publication of seven volumes of the findings in the Ascertainment of Customary Law series Volumes I-VII in 2011.

My experience with this project showed that women lawyers have to push to work in spaces regarded as the domain of men. With hard-work, dedication to excellence and a focus on standing strong despite all the challenges, they can achieve their purpose.

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