Ethiopia Appoints Africa's Only Female President

Geraldine Edwards
October 26, 2018

According the her biography published by the UN, Ambassador Sahlework's three decades work with the UN spans from pecial Representative and Head of the United Nations Integrated Peacebuilding Office in the Central African Republic (BINUCA) to the Permanent Representative of Ethiopia to the African Union and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) and Permanent Representative to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and accredited to Tunisia and Morocco. "In a patriarchal society such as ours, the appointment of a female head of state not only sets the standard for the future but also normalises women as decision-makers in public life".

Hon. Zewde, a career diplomat and global civil servant makes history as the first female President of Ethiopia and joins the expanding league of distinguished African women to occupy the apex office on the continent with former Presidents Ellen Sirleaf Johnson of Liberia and Joyce Banda of Malawi before her.

With a term of six years, the president has more of a ceremonial role than executive in Ethiopia.

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Zewde was elected as the east African country's first female president following the official resignation of the former President Mulatu Teshome on Thursday.

The newly appointed Ethiopia's President Sahle-Work Zewde on Thursday stressed unity among Ethiopians and the need to sustain the ongoing reform in the country.

Abiy recently appointed a new cabinet, with half of all posts going to women.

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In her acceptance speech, President Sahle-Work spoke about the importance of maintaining peace. A woman also leads the new Ministry of Peace, will oversees the powerful National Intelligence and Security Service and the Federal Police Commission.

Zewde is the only female president in Africa and the third female president to serve in the continent's history after Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia and Joyce Hilda Banda of Malawi.

She said the move was significant in numerous aspects. "They're now going to be changed". Her resignation from the United Nations role this week is said to be to allow her take the new position of president. "Actually, it should have happened a long time ago, but the next best time is now".

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