In an unprecedented push for gender parity, Ethiopia’s new cabinet boats 50% female.
Lawmakers, on Tuesday, October 16, unanimously approved the nominations put forward by Ethiopia’s reformist Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed.
The new cabinet, which reduces ministerial positions from 28 to 20, has women in the top security posts for the first time in Ethiopia’s history. Although women have been in the cabinet before, they often held minor positions. In the new cabinet, the women hold key positions.
Women will now run key dockets including defense, trade, transport, and the newly-established ministry of peace that will tackle the wave of ethnic violence that has swept the country. Abiy said the move was meant to “show respect” to the women’s participation in nation-building and to “disprove the adage that women can’t lead.”
Awol Allo, an expert on Ethiopia at Britain’s Keele University, said this was especially important because the lack of gender equality is a persistent problem in the country, which has strong patriarchal traditions.
It is a very important and progressive move on the part of the prime minister and very consistent with the transformative agendas he’s been pursuing.
I also think it sends a strong message to young Ethiopian women that one day they can take up positions in the government.