“A gender balanced court a better place for us all” – Justice Serwaa Mireku on International Day of Women Judges

The reasoning behind the day is to celebrate women judges worldwide, by recognizing their contributions to reducing the gender gap in the judiciary

Is allowance instantly strangers applauded

March 10, every year, has been set aside to mark the International Day of Women Judges following the adoption of the United Nations Resolution two years ago on April 26, 2021.

The reasoning behind the day is to celebrate women judges worldwide, by recognizing their contributions to reducing the gender gap in the judiciary, highlighting the challenges they encounter, and further charting new paths to attaining the goal of gender parity in the judiciary.

One of such women to celebrate is Justice Ellen Lordina Serwaa Mireku, who was recently elevated to the High Court at the youngest age of 36. 

She joined the bench in May 2014 as a Magistrate and was promoted in August 2016 to the Circuit Court. 

"I would say it was a smooth transition and surprisingly, my appointment and promotion at both levels were under the tenure of a female Chief Justice. She made it a point to promote gender equality and equity on the bench. She encouraged a lot of women to work hard.

As a young woman in this field, it has been challenging since promotions and performance are ranked at the same levels," she told DennisLaw News. 

But of her successes, she was elected two times as President of the Alliance of Circuit Judges and Magistrates-Ghana (ACJMG) while at the Circuit Court. 

The ACJMG is a sub-group of the Association of Judges and Magistrates-Ghana, tasked to see to the welfare of the lower Bench and the election of their representatives to the Judicial Council.

“With the help of the executives, we raised funds for ailing members, visited and made donations to families of judges and magistrates who die on the job, which hitherto was not done.”

In Ghana, an increasing number of women are joining the legal profession according to a recent article by Josephine Dawuni, Associate Professor at Howard University and founder of the non-profit organization, the Institute for African Women in Law.

Last year, for instance, 52% of lawyers called to the Ghana Bar were females. 

Given that more women are participating in the legal profession, it’s a mix-bag at the bench in terms of representation. The statistics show a marginal increase in the male-to-female ratio at different levels of the bench. 

In 2021, it was a 99 to 57 male/female ratio at the district courts, 40 to 37 male/female ratio at the Circuit Courts, 64 to 53 male/female ratio at the High Court, 18 to 15 ratio at the Court of Appeal and a 9 to 5 ratio at the Supreme Court. 

Why does women representation at the Bench matter?

“Female representation on the bench matter because in this age of advocating for equal opportunities for the girl child, it will be a source of inspiration to the youth, particularly the girls. 

It matters to women and our daughters. It tells them that they can reach for the top. It tells them that hard work pays off. It will also create an awareness in the world that women will be judged on their ideas, their dedication, and their talent, not for their chromosomes or genitals. A gender-balanced court and world at large will be a better place for all of us,” Justice Serwaa Mireku said. 

In addition, she says gender equality at the Bench can be achieved through the creation of equal opportunities, constant diversified training, and “identifying and breaking bias against women, especially where women are thought as lazy, without considering "the other roles they play in the society and expect that our outcomes will be the same when we are not given a fairground.”