Slightly more than half of Nova Scotia's provincial and family court judges are now women, which is a development applauded by the Canadian Civil Liberties Association.

On Friday, the Justice Department announced the appointment of Ann Marie Simmons, chief federal prosecutor with the Public Prosecution Service of Canada, to the bench.

That appointment brings the number of full-time female judges in provincial and family courts to 18. There are 35 full-time judges serving in those courts.

Earlier this year, New Brunswick became the first province to have an equal number of women and men on its provincial court after appointing five new female judges in April to achieve an even gender split amongst the 24 judges.

In a statement, Premier Stephen McNeil called achieving gender parity on the bench in provincial and family courts "a historic moment" for the province.

Simmons has practiced law for 31 years. After almost a decade with Nova Scotia's Public Prosecution Service, she joined the Public Prosecution Service of Canada's Atlantic office in 2005.

Civil liberties group would like to see more diversity

The Canadian Civil Liberties Association praised the development.

"I think it will be important to make sure it's something that's maintained," said Cara Faith Zwibel, acting legal counsel.

She said it's important to improve the diversity of courts across the country in gender, race and other areas.

How Nova Scotia's other courts measure up

In Nova Scotia, there are 14 men and six women serving as full-time supreme court judges. On the province's appeal court, there are five men and three women judges serving in a full-time capacity. There are also a number of other judges, men and women, working as supernumeraries, or on a part-time basis.

"Obviously, the appellate courts in the country are the ones that deal with a much smaller subset of cases, but the cases they deal with have impacts on a much broader number, so it is ... important to make sure there is good representation in all different types of courts," said Zwibel.