Women's Link Worldwide

Gender Justice Uncovered - Gold Gavel Award 2013



This year’s Gold Gavel award recognizes the decision of the Supreme Court of Ghana, which held that a woman’s domestic labors, childcare, and care of her husband are key contributions to the economic growth of the marriage, which justifies an equitable division of property at the time of divorce. The judges also stated that “women are not donkeys” to be thrown away without regard to their rights as human beings after they contribute helpful and valuable services.

Ghana: Mensah vs. Mensah

The judges of the Ghana Supreme Court stated that maintaining the home and taking care of the children and the husband is an essential contribution to the economic growth of the marriage, which in turn justifies an equal distribution of assets in the event of a divorce.

Mrs. Gladys Mensah filed a petition of divorce and asked for an equally distribution of the assets she jointly acquired with her former husband during their marriage. The trial and the Court of Appeal delivered a judgment in favor of Mrs. Mensah arguing that she contributed in many ways in the acquisition and administration of the joint assets.  

The Supreme Court upheld those decisions considering that the Petitioners contribution even as a housewife, in maintaining the house and creating a congenial atmosphere for the respondent to create the economic empire he has built are enough to earn for her an equal share in the marital properties on offer for distribution upon the decree of divorce and that women are no donkeys that could be dump after offering useful and valuable services without any regard for her rights as a human being.

The Court argues that common sense and principles of general fundamental human rights requires that a person who is married to another, and performs various household chores for the other partner like keeping the home, washing and keeping the laundry generally clean, cooking and taking care of the partner’s catering needs as well as those of visitors, raising up of the children in a congenial atmosphere and generally supervising the home such that the other partner, has a free hand to engage in economic activities must not be discriminated against in the distribution of properties acquired during the marriage when the marriage is dissolved.

Link to Juridical Decision: http://www.womenslinkworldwide.org/wlw/sitio/docs_postulacion/516dac9791e9f_gjo_Ghana_MensahvMensah_en.pdf

Judges Who Issued This Decision:

Sophia A.B. Akuffo
Samuel Kofi Date-Bah
Sophia Ophilia Adjeibea Adinyira
Vida Akoto-Bamfo
Jones Mawulom Dotse