Ethiopia’s reformist prime minister announced Tuesday a new cabinet that is half female, in an unprecedented push for gender parity in Africa’s second-most-populous nation.
Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has marked his nearly seven months in office with staggering reforms for this once authoritarian country, notably releasing thousands of political prisoners, making peace with Ethiopia’s main enemy, Eritrea, and promising to open up the economy.
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. Aisha Mohammed will be in charge of defense, and Muferiat Kamil, a former parliamentary speaker, will head the newly formed Ministry of Peace.
In some ways, this could be one of the most important ministries in the government, though its name has garnered a degree of criticism on social media for its Orwellian sound. It oversees the federal police, the intelligence services, and the information security agency, and it will take the lead in tackling much of the ethnic unrest that has swept the countryside since Abiy’s reforms.
'Our women ministers will disprove the adage that women can’t lead' - Ethiopia Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said in Parliament. Click To Tweet
Although women have been in the cabinet before, they often held minor positions. In the new cabinet, in addition to defense and security, women will head the ministries of trade, transport, and labor, as well as culture, science and revenue.
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