Women have been assigned key ministerial portfolios, including ministries of peace, trade and industry, and defence.Ethiopia’s new cabinet is now a record 50 percent female, including the country’s first woman defence minister, after legislators unanimously approved the nominations put forward by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed.
“Our women ministers will disprove the old adage that women can’t lead,” Abiy said while presenting his choices on Tuesday.
“This decision is the first in the history of Ethiopia and probably in Africa,” he added.
The Horn of Africa nation joins a handful of countries, mostly European, where women make up 50 percent or more of ministerial positions, according to the Inter-Parliamentary Union and UN Women.
The shake-up is the latest in a series of dramatic reforms implemented by Abiy since he took office in April after more than two years of anti-government unrest that contributed to his predecessor’s sudden resignation.
The prime minister’s measures have included ending two decades of conflict with neighbouring Eritrea, releasing jailed dissidents, welcoming formerly banned groups back into the country and announcing plans to privatise major state-owned industries.
However, since taking power, his government has been rocked by successive ethnic clashes in the countryside including violence in southern Ethiopia that has displaced nearly one million people.