Ethiopia appoints first female president

In what many see as a step toward gender equality, Ethiopia’s Parliament appointed Sahle-Work Zewde as its first female president on Oct. 25. With unanimous approval, Zewde, who served in a variety of high-level diplomatic roles for three decades, was appointed to the position following her predecessor’s unexpected resignation the day before.

This appointment comes among a wave of female leaders in Ethiopia, with the cabinet of current Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed being evenly split between 10 women and 10 men. Among the women in his cabinet are Defense Minister Aisha Mohammed and Peace Minister Muferiat Kamil.

Zewde’s appointment has been hailed as an important first step by many activists inside the country.

“There is still much to be desired in gender equality, despite the recent moves for gender proportionality in Ethiopian politics,” Aklile Solomon, a women’s rights activist based in Addis Ababa, said in an interview with Al Jazeera.

For her part, Zewde has expressed enthusiasm about her appointment and what it could mean for Ethiopian women in the future.

“If the current change in Ethiopia is headed equally by both men and women, it can sustain its momentum and realise a prosperous Ethiopia free of religious, ethnic and gender discrimination,” Zewde said in a speech in Parliament on Thursday.

Information for this article was gathered from aljazeera.com and washingtonpost.com.

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