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A Toast to Justice Mandisa Maya! Another First For Women Judges in South Africa

Ten years ago in 2012, the first woman judge president in South Africa, Monica Leeuw, was appointed. Her appointment paved the way for women judges in leadership in South Africa as judge presidents. A decade later today, another historical first for women judges in South Africa has been announced. Justice Mandisa Muriel Lindelwa Maya has been appointed as the first woman Deputy Chief Justice of South Africa, effective September 1, 2022.

Last year, Justice Maya made history as the first woman ever to be interviewed for the position of Chief Justice of South Africa. Although she was not appointed, President Ramaphosa nominated her for the Deputy Chief Justice position. Her appointment as Deputy Chief Justice is welcome news – not only to women judges in South Africa but to African women rising in leadership globally.

In South Africa, Justice Maya’s appointment will reduce the erroneous perception of women judges’ leadership abilities and patriarchal attitudes towards them. Her appointment also brings women judges a step closer to the Office of the Chief Justice of South Africa – a reality we hope to celebrate sooner rather than later. Justice Maya adds to the growing representation of women rising to the upper echelons of society globally that an African woman or girl will see today and believe: "Yes, I can too!" The Institute for African Women in Law (IAWL) joins in celebrating this great feat.

In celebrating the news, Prof. J. Jarpa Dawuni, Executive Director of IAWL noted:

Justice Mandisa Maya’s appointment is another signal of women’s excellence in leadership. At IAWL, we are working to build the next generation of women leaders in law across Africa as a part of our Women’s Excellence in Law and Leadership Academy (WELLA). We celebrate this day with all the women judges in South Africa.

Kudos to South Africa for believing in another woman to lead, and big congratulations to Justice Maya on her appointment. We wish her the very best in her new role and for paving the way for other women in law and leadership.


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