With the 2020 Global Ties U.S. National Meeting set to take place January 22-25, we continue to announce our keynote speakers. This week, we are thrilled to highlight Meaza Ashenafi, the first federal female Chief Justice of Ethiopia. She will speak at the Luncheon with the Ambassadors, a signature event of the National Meeting that takes place in the presence of Washington, DC-based foreign diplomatic representatives.
Chief Justice Ashenafi spent her life breaking boundaries. In 1997, she was a young lawyer in Ethiopia when she first visited the United States on the U.S. Department of State’s International Visitor Leadership Program. At the beginning of her career, Ethiopia’s official language, Amharic, had no formal way of expressing sexual harassment, and the country did not consider it a crime; Chief Justice Ashenafi, with fellow women lawyers, created the word and reformed the Ethiopian judicial system’s treatment of sexual harassment cases. Her most famous case inspired the 2014 movie “Difret,” in which a crusading attorney defends a woman on trial for killing the man who abducted and raped her.
On the African continent, Chief Justice Ashenafi has been an active defender of the rights of African women. She played a significant role in the African Union’s Women’s Protocol and in a Gender Advisory role with the UN Economic Commission for Africa. Chief Justice Ashenafi also co-founded Enat Bank, the first bank in Ethiopia that focuses on women’s economic empowerment, and chaired its Board of Directors for four years.
Because of these accomplishments, Chief Justice Ashenafi is well known internationally for her contributions in the field of women rights law. In 2019, she was appointed as the first female chief justice of the Federal Supreme Court of Ethiopia, where she is working to reform the federal judiciary and restore public trust in the justice system.
Chief Justice Ashenafi received a Bachelor of Laws from Addis Ababa University and a Master of Arts degree in international relations and gender studies from the University of Connecticut.
Global Ties U.S. is thrilled to have Chief Justice Meaza Ashenafi join the 2020 National Meeting in Washington, DC. Online registration for the event is available until January 10.
For Global Ties U.S., contact Daniel Bremer-Wirtig, Director of External Affairs, Global Ties U.S.,
For the U.S. Department of State, contact