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Meet the First Female Lawyer and Judge in Ghana

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Justice Annie Jiagge was born on 7th October, 1918 Lomé, Togo. Her parents were schoolteacher, Henrietta Baëta and Presbyterian minister Robert Domingo Baëta.

Annie attended Achimota College and earned her teacher’s certificate in 1937. She was Headmistress and Schoolteacher at the Evangelical Presbyterian Girls School from 1940 to 1946.

She was admitted to the London School of Economics and Political Science in 1946. Her male colleagues from the Gold Coast urged her to abandon her studies, thinking them too difficult for a woman.

One offered to arrange a position for her at the Paris Academy to study dress design. She told them she would return to the Gold Coast if she didn’t pass her first examination. She passed, and was no longer bothered by the men. She received her LLB in 1949 and was called to the Bar at Lincoln’s Inn the following year.

Baeta established a private practice upon her return to the Gold Coast in 1950. She gave up the Bar and became a magistrate for the Bench in June 1953.

She rose through the ranks to become a judge of the Court of Appeal in 1969, the highest court in Ghana at the time. She was asked to chair the Commission to investigate the Assets of Senior Public Servants and Named Political Leaders in 1966 following the overthrow of Kwame Nkrumah.

Annie was the first female judge of the Court of Appeal. She later became president of the Court of Appeal in 1980 until her retirement in 1983.

She also served on the Committee of Experts who drafted Ghana’s 3rd and 4th Republican Constitutions.

From 1993 until her death, Annie Jiagge served on Ghana’s Council of State. She died on 12 June 1996 in Accra.

Credit: SOP Library