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A Third Woman Chief Justice for Ghana? A Look at the Rise of African Women in Law and Leadership

Justice Gertrude Torkornoo, nominated Chief Justice of Ghana. Credit: Justice Torkornoo.

The recent announcement of the nomination of Her Ladyship Justice Gertrude Torkornoo as Chief Justice in Ghana has been a cause for both celebration and reflection. As the third woman to be nominated for this esteemed position, this nomination has cemented the idea that the Women in Law and Leadership movement is here to stay and thrive!

Three years ago, our Executive Director, Prof. Jarpa Dawuni, made a case for why there should be more women in the Ghanaian Supreme Court in her blog post titled “Why More Women on the Supreme Court of Ghana Matters: Open Letter to H.E Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo”. She highlighted the cases of Justice Annie Jiagge (neé Baeta), the first female magistrate in Ghana, and a group of women she calls the “Big Six Women of Justice” - the first generation women judges of the Supreme Court of Ghana. She noted that “having a representative bench contributes to promoting access to justice for women and gender issues.”

By appointing more women to the Supreme Court, Ghana’s judiciary will be signaling women’s roles as arbiters of peace, promoters of justice and contributors to building strong institutions, thereby meeting Goal #16. ~Prof. Jarpa Dawuni

She challenged President Nana Addo Danquah Akuffo-Addo to “prove that he indeed believes in the women of his homeland Ghana”, as he has been “given a golden opportunity”. Could he then be living up to the same expectations with this nomination?

The nominee, Justice Gertrude Torkornoo, has a long and impressive history of working in the Ghanaian legal system. She has extensive experience in providing leadership in the E-Justice, Commercial Division of the High Court, Judicial Training, and Learning Resources sectors. Among other accomplishments, she has overseen the implementation of the Security Governance Initiative, the Business Environment Engineering Project, and the Internship and Clerkship Program. She has also facilitated the development of the curriculum for teaching Judicial Ethics, a manual for training in Judicial Ethics, a magazine for Judges, and an e-judgment research resource with key-word search-ability properties.

Justice Torkornoo’s nomination is a powerful reminder of the steady progress Ghana has made in the fight for gender equality within the legal profession. It is a testament to the dedication and resilience of generations of women who have fought for their rights and a reminder of the importance of continuing to strive for progress in this area. The appointment of Justice Torkornoo would be an inspiration to all those who believe in the power of justice and the importance of upholding the rule of law. Perhaps we will soon revise our phrase “the Big Six Women of Justice” to the “Seven Wonder Women of Justice”. We live to see!

Read Justice Torkornoo’s Pioneer African Woman in Law (PAWLP) profile:

Watch her interview with Justice Ann C. Williams:

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