Following the resignation of Ethiopia’s President, Mulatu Teshome, the country has in another first since Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed assumed office, got the first female to occupy the seat.
And the person said to be Ethiopia’s first female President is Ambassador Sahle-Work Zewde who works with the UN.
Ethiopia’s parliament has approved senior diplomat Sahle-Work Zewde as the country’s first female president, Reuters reported on Thursday.
Sahle-Work, 68, is the U.N. under-secretary general and special representative of the secretary general to the African Union.
The development comes weeks after Prime Minister Ahmed named a new Cabinet half of it females, which was celebrated as a new shift in Ethiopia’s politics and gender representation.
In the same Cabinet reshuffle, a woman was appointed to head the Ministry of Peace which is one of the most powerful ministries in the country that controls the intelligence agency and security forces.
On Thursday, Fitsum Arega, Abiy’s chief of staff, described he appointment of Zewde as historic.
“In a historic move, the two Houses have elected Ambassador Shalework Zewde as the next President of #Ethiopia. She is the first female head of state in modern Ethiopia,” Fitsum Arega tweeted.
“In a patriarchal society such as ours, the appointment of a female head of state not only sets the standard for the future but also normalizes women as decision-makers in public life”.
It should be noted that in Ethiopia, the Presidential role is largely ceremonial since much of the political and administrative powers are vested in the Prime Minister.
Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed who took office in April this year has been praised for introducing major reforms in the country largely divided by ethnic strife, including releasing political prisoners, inviting back exiles and making peace with the country’s chief opponent, Eritrea, after two decades of hostilities.