In June 2013, Thelma Hammond was fired from the Ghana National Fire Service for violating an archaic rule forbidding female firefighters from becoming pregnant during their first three years of employment. In September 2014, her colleague Grace Fosu was fired for the same offense.
Now, they’ve been reinstated after winning their lawsuit against the organization that fired them. The victory is symbolic on many levels. It challenges an antiquated law, takes a stand against gender inequality, and is the first successful gender discrimination court case in the West African country.
Less than a year after the case began, in April 2018, Justice Anthony Yeboah declared the regulation “discriminatory in effect, unjustifiable, illegitimate and illegal.”
Justice Yeboah called the dismissal of Fosu and Hammond “[an] unwarranted, institutional onslaught on their fundamental human rights — right to work and freedom from discrimination.”
He ordered the Ghana National Fire Service to reinstate the two women, as well as pay them all of the salaries and bonuses they should have collected had they not been fired.
Justice Yeboah also recommended the GNFS offer the women approximately $9,000 each as compensation “for the trauma and inevitable inconvenience of the wrongful dismissal.”
Despite the historic court victory, Hammond and Fosu had still not been reinstated. Until now.
The law that caused Hammond and Fosu’s dismissal has since been removed and the women are back on the job after nearly five years away from it.
In a phone interview with CNN, both of the women expressed excitement and gratitude at the opportunity to rejoin the fire service.
“To me it is a great joy. I am too excited … My first day is really great and I thank God,” Hammond said.
“I thank God for what he has done for us,” Fosu agreed.
This story was informed by reporting from Kwasi Gyamfi Asiedu for CNN.