The future is feminine! Sahlework Zewde is Ethiopia's first female president

On October 25 the special representative of the UN Secretary-General was elected president of Ethiopia

The future is feminine! Sahlework Zewde is Ethiopia's first female president

On October 25, a historic event took place in Africa when Shalework Zewde, a UN diplomat and a trusted person of Secretary-General António Guterres, was elected president of Ethiopia. This after the resignation of Mulatu Teshome. Thus, Zewde, 68, became the first woman in the history of that country to become Head of State and the only one in the entire African continent at present.

Leer en español: ¡El futuro es femenino! Sahlework Zewde es la primera presidenta de Etiopía

"In a historic move, the two Houses has elected Ambassador Shalework Zewde as the next President of Ethiopia, the first female head of state in modern Ethiopia. A career diplomat and senior at the UN, she brings the right competence and experience to the office," said Fitsum Arega, chief of staff of the Prime Minister of Ethiopia, on his Twitter account that same day.

"We need to build a society that rejects oppression of women"

After being elected as president, Zewde took the opportunity to talk about women's rights and to make it clear that this is a topic that will be discussed a lot during her term in office. "We need to build a society that rejects oppression towards women (...) If you thought I spoke a lot about women, know that I am just getting started," declared the new president in her acceptance speech.

She also took the opportunity to mention the ethnic violence that plagues the country and stressed the need to work for peace. "When there is no peace in the country, mothers are frustrated, so we have to work for peace for the sake of our mothers," she said.

Without a doubt, these days have been hectic in the African country. While Ethiopia appointed its first female president, at the same time it signed with Eritrea "the end of the state of war". Both facts were registered a week after Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, "approved a historic reform of his cabinet in which he reduced the number of portfolios and established that half were occupied by women," according to the EFE news agency.

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This was a warning of what was to come with Zewde. The same media indicates that, currently, of the 20 members of the Government, 10 are women among whom is the Minister of Defense. The appointment of Zewde is also historic then because it means a triumph for women and a precedent to continue advancing towards equality and in asserting the rights of this population.

"In a patriarchal society" like the one in Ethiopia, the fact that a woman is named "head of state not only sets the standard for the future but also normalises women as decision-makers in public life", said Arega on his Twitter account.

Who is Shalework Zewde?

Zewde was born in Addis Ababa in 1950. At age 17 she moved to France, where she studied Natural Sciences at the University of Montpellier. After graduating, Zewde returned to her country and since then has served in various positions over the years. She has been an Ethiopian ambassador on many occasions in Senegal, Djibouti, and France.

She was also a representative before the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) and UNESCO. According to El Espectador, in 2009 she joined the United Nations. Her first job was as head of the Integrated Peacebuilding Office in the Central African Republic.

Then, she served as Director-General of the United Nations Office at Nairobi and Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations to the African Union. According to El País, she also served as Director-General of African Affairs in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ethiopia.


LatinAmerican Post | Onofre Zambrano

Translated from "¡El futuro es femenino! Sahlework Zewde es la primera presidenta de Etiopía"


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