Why More Women on the Supreme Court of Ghana Matters: Open Letter to H.E Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo
Women have made trailblazing contributions to the history of Ghana. Whether it is in the works of Yaa Asantewaa, the unrelenting militant Queen Mother of the Ashanti Kingdom, or the entrepreneurial legacy of Dr. Esther Ocloo (neé Nkulenu) an industrialist and philanthropist, the list continues to grow. Regrettably, within the political realm, women have struggled to achieve meaningful representation in the legislative and executive branches of government. According to the current data on global rankings, Ghana ranks 147 out of 189 countries with women making up only 13% of the seats in parliament. Despite the fledging numbers of women in parliament and the executive branches, the judiciary––as the third branch of government, has recorded comparatively modest gains for women’s representation, with women currently making up over 33% of the judiciary.
The story of women in Ghana’s judiciary traces back to 1953 when Justice Annie Jiagge (neé Baeta) became the first woman in Ghana and (perhaps the second in British Commonwealth, after Stella Thomas of Nigeria) to be appointed a magistrate. Justice Annie Jiagge continued her judicial trajectory until she became the first woman to sit on the bench of the highest court of the land at the time—the Court of Appeal in 1969, later becoming president of the court from 1980 to 1983.
In 1991, Justice Joyce Bamford-Addo made history as the first woman to be appointed to the Sup