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Girls & Women

Ethiopia's New Cabinet Is a Historic Win for Women in Government


Why Global Citizens Should Care
Appointing women to leadership positions is key to achieving gender equality. Historically, women have been underrepresented in positions of power in Ethiopia but that’s changing. You can join us in taking action on this issue here

One African country has recognized the need for equal gender representation within its government. 

On Tuesday Ethiopian lawmakers overwhelmingly approved the nominations of a 50% female cabinet, AP reports

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“Our women ministers will disprove the old adage that women can’t lead,” said Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, who moved the nominations forward Tuesday. According to Abiy, this decision is the first of its kind in the history of Ethiopia and probably in Africa. 

Ethiopia, the second most populated country in Africa, is only the second state after Rwanda on the continent to have equal gender representation in the cabinet, according to BBC.

The first cabinet Abiy announced in April, made up of 28 people, only included four women. This time around he trimmed down the cabinet to 20 people, 10 of which are women. In Ethiopia, a few groups have always been in power but the new cabinet is also more ethnically diverse than ever, representing 80 different ethnicities. 

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Aiby said he chose to appoint women to his cabinet because they’re less “corrupt” than men, have proved to restore peace and stability, and can help move the country forward.

The country is trying to shake its patriarchal past.

“Women and girls in Ethiopia are strongly disadvantaged compared to boys and men in several areas, including literacy, health, livelihoods, and basic human rights,” UN Women reports

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Women have held roles within the Ethiopian cabinet before, but they weren’t high-level positions, according to the Washington Post. The country also announced Aisha Mohammed Musa as its first-ever female defense minister, while Muferiat Kamil will be tasked with mitigating violent ethnic tensions within the country as head of the new Ministry of Peace, according to AP. 

The cabinet members have their work cut out for them. Abiy, who is only 42, became prime minister in April amid anti-government protests and is determined to turn over a new leaf for Ethiopia. The progressive leader has already released thousands of political prisoners, made peace with Eritrea, and promised to open up the economy, according to the Washington Post

Abiy’s groundbreaking move follows a worldwide push for “gender-balanced” cabinets in recent years, with French President Emmanuel Macron and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau as big proponents of the shift. Still, women on average accounted for 23.4% of all parliamentarians in 2017, according to data from the Inter-Parliamentary Union, the international organization of parliaments.

Keep the nominations coming.