Photo credit: Eduardo Soteras/AFP/Getty Images
The Ethiopian parliament just made a historic decision to elect Sahle-Work Zewde as its head of state, making Zewde the country's first woman president in modern history. Ethiopia's very first woman head of state was Empress Zewditu, who served in the role from 1916 to 1930. Zewde's appointment comes a day after now former Ethiopian president Mulatu Teshome resigned from the position on Wednesday.
"A career diplomat and senior official at the UN, she brings the right competence & experience to the office," Fitsum Arega, chief of staff to the prime minister's office, tweeted on Thursday. "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."
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. #Ethiopia (2) pic.twitter.com/3Z8UNd15E0— Fitsum Arega (@fitsumaregaa) October 25, 2018
Although the prime minister holds the executive power in Ethiopia, Zewde will use her new role to continue to advocate for gender equality. As stated in the Ethiopian constitution, other presidential duties include granting pardons, appointing ambassadors and receiving foreign envoys.
"Government and opposition parties have to understand we are living in a common house and focus on things that unite us, not what divides us, to create a country and generation that will make all of us proud," Zewde said in her speech to the Parliament on Thursday.
Congratulations to President Zewde, who is now also Africa's only current female head of state.