Ethiopia Appoints Its First Female President

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Ethiopia Appoints Its First Female President
Sahle-Work Zewde, second from left, with Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, second from right, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on Thursday. She is now Africa’s only female head of state.

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia — A week after Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed of Ethiopia filled half of his new cabinet with women in a radical overhaul, the country’s Parliament took another step toward gender parity on Thursday by appointing the country’s first female president.

Sahle-Work Zewde, 68, a seasoned diplomat who has held positions in the United Nations and worked in peacekeeping operations in Africa, accepted the position following the unprecedented appointments of women to lead the Defense Ministry and the secret intelligence agency, a long-feared state organ that recently got a face-lift. (It is now called the Ministry of Peace.)

“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,” Fitsum Arega, the prime minister’s chief of staff, said on Twitter.

Though the position of president is considered largely ceremonial, involving opening Parliament and appointing ambassadors, the decision to place Ms. Sahle-Work in the role carries significant symbolic weight, said Selam Musse, a gender and media consultant based in Addis Ababa, the capital.

Credit. Newyork Times


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