Women judges in Ghana need to prepare themselves in order to meet the criteria to serve on international courts when the positions become available.
These were comments contained in the remarks made by Her Excellence Justice Akua Kuenyehia, a former judge of the International Criminal Court (ICC) at The Hague in the Netherlands and Her Ladyship Justice Sophia Akuffo, a current Supreme Court judge of Ghana and former judge and president of the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACtHPR) based in Arusha, Tanzania. The judges made this call at a conference dubbed “Women Judges Demystifying International Courts”organised by the Institute for African Women in Law (IAWL) in conjunction with the Ghana chapter of the International Association of Women Judges (IAWJ), in Accra at the High Court Complex on Wednesday 29th June, 2016.
On her part, Dr. J. Jarpa Dawuni, a Professor at Howard University in the USA and the Founder and Executive Director of the Institute for African Women in Law shared her research findings which indicate that African women judges are making important contributions to international law and international justice. She encouraged the participants to break outside the mould and to pursue jobs within international courts. In her address, she advised the prospective candidates to research on past and present women judges on international courts in order to enable them to gain more knowledge on the needed qualifications to apply for such positions. She noted that the Institute for African Women in Law is a forum that seeks to enhance the capacity of African women lawyers, judges and legal academics in using the law as a tool for social change.
Delivering a speech as one of the guest speakers at the event which had a heavy presence of women judges, Justice Kuenyehia expressed her hope that Ghanaian women judges will seek ways to build on their expertise in order to bring their experiences to international courts. In sharing her experiences and the numerous benefits of being part of the ICC, she challenged all female judges in the country to embrace the opportunity to improve their judicial knowledge adding that there is no age restriction to serving as a judge on the ICC. Justice Sophia Akuffo, on her part, recounted the work she and other judges had to do to build the newly established African Court in 2006. She was of the opinion that national governments across Africa needed to do more to meet the gender balance requirement contained in the Article 12 (2) of the Protocol Establishing the African Court on Human and Peoples' Rights establishing the African Court.
This, she said needed to be addressed considering that consistently, only 2 out of 11 (18%) of the total number of judges on the court have been women. Justice Mariama Owusu, a judge of the Court of Appeal and current President of the IAWJ-Gh, thanked the invited speakers for sharing their experiences and providing the much needed mentoring opportunities for other women judges. The event was chaired by Justice Rose Owusu, a retired Supreme Court judge and in attendance was Justice Harriet Abban, a retired Court of Appeal judge and female judges drawn from all levels of the judiciary.