In groundbreaking news, Ethiopian members of parliament have elected Sahle-Work Zewde as the country’s first female president in the modern era. The last female leader was Empress Zewditu, who governed the country back in the early part of the 20th century. Zewde, an experienced diplomat, is Africa’s only female head of state.
After being sworn in, President Zewde promised to work hard to make gender equality a reality in the country. She also pledged to promote peace. Turning to parliament, she said: “I urge you all, to uphold our peace, in the name of a mother, who is the first to suffer from the absence of peace.’’
According to the BBC, Zewde was elected to the ceremonial position just one week after Prime Minster Abiy Ahmed appointed a cabinet with half of the positions taken up by women. From the start, Zewde has made a point about gender equality. At one point, she told MPs that if they were tired of her talking about women, that was too bad, because she was just getting started.
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The appointment has been welcomed with gratitude on social media, with many users have called the move historic. Even the prime minister’s chief of staff, Fitsum Arega, took to Twitter. He wrote, “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.”
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
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