Ethiopia’s new government is now 50 per cent women, and for the first time in its history the Ministry of Defense will be headed by a woman.
“Our women ministers will refute the old adage that women can not lead,” said Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed introducing the government.
“This decision is the first in the history of Ethiopia and probably Africa,” said the head of government which had only four women out of twenty-eight ministers.
Ethiopia faces radical political and economic reforms since the 42-year-old prime minister took office in April after months of anti-government protests and promises of free and fair elections.
Ethiopia has joined a handful of countries, mostly European, where women hold 50% or more ministerial positions, according to the Inter-Parliamentary Union and US women. French President Emmanuel Macron and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau have unveiled “balanced” cabinets in recent years. “
Aisha Mohammed Musa will lead the Ministry of Defense. Another woman, former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Muferiat Kamil, will lead the new Ministry of Peace at a time when the second most populous country in Africa is facing sometimes violent ethnic tensions.
The Ministry of Peace will oversee the powerful National Intelligence and Security Service, the Information Network Security Agency, the Federal Police Commission and the Financial Security and Information Center.
Ethiopia has long been considered a patriarchal society and “suffers from some of the weakest performance indicators for gender equality in sub-Saharan Africa,” said UN Women.
“Women and girls in Ethiopia are at a significant disadvantage to boys and men in many areas, including literacy, health, livelihoods and basic human rights. “