A Shift in Ethiopian Politics

Gelila Negesse , Designer

After the abrupt resignation of former Prime minister Hailemariam Desalegn the new Ethiopian Prime minister, Dr. Abiy Ahmed, has promoted multiple women to prominent positions in the reformation of the Ethiopian government.

In the wake of a new administration, Prime minister Ahmed elected women for jobs usually reserved for men. Half of Ahmed’s cabinet is made up of women with many firsts such as the first female defense minister and ministry of peace as well as the first female president and Supreme Court chief.

This shift questioned the role of women in Ethiopia politics. Abebe Aynete, a senior researcher at the Ethiopian Foreign Relations Strategic Studies, stressed the importance of these appointments in an interview with news outlet Al Jazeera.

“The fact that [President Sahle-Work Zewde] has become the first female Ethiopian president will be a great sign towards achieving gender equality,” Aynete said. “I consider it as a sort of a glass ceiling being broken down, showing females can also reach positions of high profile.”

In a country that has had a long history of suppressing women, from female genital mutilation to a gender gap in primary school, having more women in the government can drive towards ending gender discrimination.

“It really gives hope to all the girls in Ethiopia, because we were not seen as equal before,” sophomore Hamere Abate said. “They have hope for the future to become what they want to be.”

However, when Prime minister Ahmed began to include women in the new administration it was not just to end gender discrimination but also to reduce the amount of corruption in the government.

In a study done by the University of Maryland, it was found that “higher rates of female participation in government are associated with lower levels of corruption” which suggests that women tend to have more ethical behavior and are more concerned with the overall state of the people.

Although Ethiopia is heading in a new direction it still has a long way to go. However, with the historical appointments in the government, change doesn’t seem too far away

“I would never have thought that this would happen in my lifetime,” Abate said. “I’m just very proud of Ethiopia.”