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Ethiopia Elects Their First Female President

Sahle-Work Zewde becomes Africa’s only female leader

When it comes to world leadership, it’s no secret that women are still yet to hold an equal number of positions as men. Of the modern world’s 195 sovereign nations, only 59 had a female leader, with Sri Lanka’s Sirimavo Bandaranaike having paved the way as the world’s first female prime minister in 1960.


Since then, progress has slowed down and men continue to outnumber women—even in what are considered to be some of the world’s most progressive nations. But today, an African nation is offering the world a gleam of hope. Ethiopia has just joined the progressive ranks after electing Sahle-Work Zewde as their first female president.


Zewde, was sworn into her position after her predecessor Mulatu Teshome announced his resignation after five years in office.


Her election comes after a week long cabinet reshuffle that was spearheaded by the nation’s prime minister Abiy Ahmed (who is currently Africa’s youngest leader at 41-years-old) during which he appointed women to occupy half of the Cabinet’s ministerial seats.


Sahle-Work Zewde has previously served as Ethiopia’s ambassador to Senegal, Djibouti and France. She also served as a Special Representative of the United Nation’s Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, amongst other positions within the UN that spanned her diplomatic career.


Upon her symbolic election, the prime minister’s chief of staff Fitsum Arega tweeted: “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 normalizes women as decision-makers in public life”.

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