Somalilandsun – For the first time in its history a women is to head the powerful Defense ministry in Ethiopia.
This follows a cabinet reshuffle effected by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed in which Eng Aisha Ahmed was named Defense minister.
The new cabinet which is downsized from 28 to 20 also sets an unprecedented gender balance with 10 women making the list.
Another woman, former House speaker Muferiat Kamil, will lead the new Ministry of Peace thence oversee the powerful National Intelligence and Security Service, the Information Network Security Agency, the Federal Police Commission and the Finance Security and Information Center.
The trust in women to hold powerful positions especially Defense and the new ministry of peace at a time when Ethiopia , Africa’s second most populous country faces sometimes violent ethnic tensions as the wider political freedoms are explored, is a measure of PM Abiy’s commitment to a truly one society.
“Our women ministers will disprove the old adage that women can’t lead,” Abiy said while presenting his choices. “This decision is the first in the history of Ethiopia and probably in Africa.”
Abiy’s right hand man Workneh Gebeyehu is retained at Foreign Affairs while former government communications minister Ahmed Shide from the Zone Five Somali Administrative region will head to finance as the PMs office takes full charge of communications.
Though the second cabinet reshuffle made since coming to office, lawmakers on Tuesday unanimously approved the nominations put forward by reformist Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed.
Apart from the cabinet approval another core agenda of discussion at Tuesday session of Ethiopia’s parliament – The House of Peoples Representatives, HPR, was to define the power and duties of the executive organ, state-affiliated Fana Broadcasting Corporate reported.
Ethiopia has faced sweeping political and economic reforms since the 42-year-old prime minister took office in April after months of anti-government protests and made pledges that include free and fair elections.
In his first Cabinet Reshuffle immediately he took office the youthful and reformist PM put to pasture old and powerful functionaries of the ruling EPRDF who were tainted in the public eye.
The Horn of Africa power joins a handful of countries, mostly European, where women make up 50 percent or more of ministerial positions, according to the Inter-Parliamentary Union and U.N. Women. French President Emmanuel Macron and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in recent years unveiled “gender-balanced” Cabinets.
Rwanda is the first african country to establish a cabinet with a semblance of gender balance.