Ethiopia heralds gender balance as Zewde emerges president (updated)

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Ethiopia’s New Cabinet Is a Historic Win for Women in Government

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed believes gender balance will restore peace and stability.

Leah Roderiguez

One African country has recognized the need for equal gender representation within its government. On Tuesday Ethiopian lawmakers overwhelmingly approved the nominations of a 50% female cabinet, AP reports.

“Our women ministers will disprove the old adage that women can’t lead,” said Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, who moved the nominations forward Tuesday. According to Abiy, this decision is the first of its kind in the history of Ethiopia and probably in Africa.
Ethiopia, the second most populated country in Africa, is only the second state after Rwanda on the continent to have equal gender representation in the cabinet, according to BBC.

The first cabinet Abiy announced in April, made up of 28 people, only included four women. This time around he trimmed down the cabinet to 20 people, 10 of which are women. In Ethiopia, a few groups have always been in power but the new cabinet is also more ethnically diverse than ever, representing 80 different ethnicities.

Aiby said he chose to appoint women to his cabinet because they’re less “corrupt” than men, have proved to restore peace and stability, and can help move the country forward.

Women have held roles within the Ethiopian cabinet before, but they weren’t high-level positions, according to the Washington Pos t. The country also announced Aisha Mohammed Musa as its first-ever female defense minister, while Muferiat Kamil will be tasked with mitigating violent ethnic tensions within the country as head of the new Ministry of Peace, according to AP.

The cabinet members have their work cut out for them. Abiy, who is only 42, became prime minister in April amid anti-government protests and is determined to turn over a new leaf for Ethiopia. The progressive leader has already released thousands of political prisoners, made peace with Eritrea, and promised to open up the economy.

And Zewde emerges first female president

The resignation 24/10/2018 of president Mulatu Teshome paved way for Ethiopia’s parliament to appoint Sahle-Work Zewde a United Nations diplomat in replacement. 

  • Members of the parliament of Ethiopia elected Sahle-Work Zewde to become the country’s first female president.

Zewde’s election to the highest political office in the nation came just a few days after Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed set up a cabinet with half the positions taken up by women, thus setting the ancient nation as the new light of Africa, note Africa Forum editors. 

In her acceptance speech, President Sahle-Work Zewde promises to help maintain peace, local media freedom.


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