Sahle-Work Zewde was formerly the UN’s under-secretary-general and special representative of the secretary general to the African Union.
In a trailblazing move in Ethiopian politics, the country has hired its first female commander in chief, state media confirms.
Sahle-Work Zewde’s new appointment comes after a swift reshuffle in the East African nation’s political structure. Former President Mulatu Teshome resigned after Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed reassembled its Cabinet.
Ahmed slashed eight of the country’s ministerial seats – from 28 to 20 – and hired more women, who now make up half of the country’s highest-ranking state official body.
The move makes Ethiopia the third African country to achieve a 50% gender balance in its Cabinets. The other two being Rwanda and Seychelles.
Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed
Zewde is the only female president in Africa and the third female president to serve in the continent’s history after Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia and Joyce Hilda Banda of Malawi.
“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 normalises women as decision-makers in public life,” Fitsum Arega, Abiy’s chief of staff tweeted Thursday.
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 normalises women as decision-makers in public life. #Ethiopia (2) pic.twitter.com/3Z8UNd15E0
— Fitsum Arega (@fitsumaregaa) October 25, 2018
Sahle-Work formerly served as the UN’s under-secretary-general and special representative of the Secretary General to the African Union.
“When there is no peace in the country, mothers will be frustrated,” Sahle-Work said before Parliament shortly after her approval. “Therefore, we need to work on peace for the sake of our mothers.”
A Reuters report confirms that Teshome left office because he wanted to be a part of new reforms. The former president left office after five years in power – one year before his term ended.
Part of Ahmed’s reform agenda includes the creation of a Ministry of Peace and accelerating its already-rapidly growing economy.