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 a string of staggering reforms for this once-authoritarian country, notably releasing thousands of political prisoners, making peace with its main enemy, Eritrea, and promising to open up the economy.
The new cabinet, which reduces ministerial positions to 20 from 28, has women in the top security posts for the first time in Ethiopia’s history. Aisha Mohammed takes 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. 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,” Abiy said in Parliament.
While women have been in the cabinet before, they often held minor positions. In the new cabinet, in addition to defense and security, women head the ministries of trade, transport and labor as well as culture, science and revenue. Read more