Former Chief Justice Welcomes US Students

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The first woman to become Ghana’s Chief of Justice, Georgina Wood, spoke to 20 American students about Ghana’s judicial system on July 22, 2019.

The students are part of the University of Oregon’s African Diaspora Studies program; a four-week study abroad that takes students first to New Orleans, and then to Ghana, retracing the steps of African slaves coming to America 400 years ago as part of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade.

The Diaspora studies program coincides with Africa’s “Year of Return,” which aims to commemorate the arrival of the first African slave in Jamestown, Virginia 400 years ago by encouraging African- Americans to return to Ghana, where the slave trade began.

Wood opened her speech with a desire to use her time wisely, telling students that she would be speaking about her experiences as Chief Justice and answering questions near the end of the program.

She highlighted a couple of her biggest achievements in the ten years (2007 to 2017) she spent as Chief Justice.

“In order to expedite the judicial process, we created a number of specialty courts,” Wood said. “Including family courts, civil courts and criminal courts,” she added.

One of the specialty courts Wood touched on was the domestic violence court. Wood said that many women in Ghana maintained “head of household” duties, but didn’t receive the same fair treatment that men did.

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“It is important for women to be represented within the judicial system in Ghana. It’s gotten better, but there’s still much work to do.”

She stressed the importance of creating an independent judiciary that isn’t “subservient to legislative or executive branches of government.”

Wood continued “Independence is guaranteed in Ghana’s constitution. But because of our past history and to protect the constitution and the people of Ghana, we had to add to the constitution. That’s why it’s much longer than the constitution in the US.”

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