Ethiopia has appointed its first female President.
The move follows Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s decision to give half of his cabinet posts to women, saying that he wanted a fifty-fifty gender balance because women were less corrupt than men.
Dr Abiy’s Chief of Staff Fitsum Arega added that these appointments not only set a new standard for the future but also “normalises women as decision-makers in public life.”
The appointment of Shale-Work Zewde as Ethiopia’s new President has been widely welcomed in the country. Although the post is largely ceremonial many Ethiopians see it as an important breakthrough for women in this traditionally conservative society.
Women have also taken the top security posts in the new cabinet for the first time in Ethiopia’s history. Aisha Mohammed takes charge of Defence and Muferiat Kamil will take over the newly formed Ministry of Peace.
“It’s amazing” commented Human Rights activist Kidisan Desta: “We never expected this” Ms Desta said these moves to empower women will make a difference to how women are treated in Ethiopia:
“Now it’s up to the women to prove they are capable of being competent Ministers who can help deliver the massive reform programme introduced by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed”
Other Ethiopian women like journalist Meli Get have been completely surprised at the rapid changes in their country:
“We never dreamt of this happening”, she said: ”we hope it will bring a real change to the lives of women. So often girls are expected to stay home and help with the household chores, now we can see them playing a big role in society”.
Photo: Orthodox Christian women gather on Sunday morning to hear the dramatic news