Women take centre stage in Prime Minister Abiy’s Cabinet reshuffle

19 Oct 2018

As part of ongoing reforms taking place in the country, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed named a new Cabinet on 16th October, with half the posts being taken by women – a historic first for Ethiopia, and Africa in general.

The cabinet reshuffle saw the number of ministerial positions reduced from 28 to 20, with half of the cabinet posts now held by women, including key Ministries such as the Ministry of Peace, Trade and Industry, and Defence.

According to the Prime Minister, the appointments took into consideration competence and educational background and is a move towards a more inclusive and “gender-balanced” government.

Addressing Parliament, Prime Minister Abiy said,

 

“Our women ministers will disprove the old adage that women can’t lead. This decision is the first in the history of Ethiopia and probably in Africa…This is to show respect to the women for all the contribution they have made to the country. The new cabinet is expected to reform their respective ministries, remove the walls of bureaucracy, and bring innovation and technology to provide services efficiently.”

Aisha Mohammed, formerly Minister of Construction, will now serve as Defence Minister – the first woman to hold that position in the country.

Muferiat Kamil, the former parliament speaker, will lead the newly-established Ministry of Peace, which will oversee the intelligence and security agencies. Similarly, in the April 2018 reshuffle Minister Muferait was elected speaker of the House of People’s Representatives and was the first female to hold that position in the country.

Dr Workneh Gebeyehu (Minister of Foreign Affairs), Dr Amir Aman (Minister of Health), Dr Sileshi Bekele (Minister of Water, Irrigation and Electricity) and Berhanu Tsegaye (Attorney General with the Rank of Minister) retained their previous posts as ministers.

Prime Minister Abiy’s nominations were unanimously approved by the Parliament.

Historic

Ethiopia now 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.

Days after Ethiopia’s announcement, Rwanda became the second country in Africa to announce a gender-balanced Cabinet with 50% of its members being women, although women already make up 61% of parliament members.

 

Ethiopia's New Cabinet

Cabinet Minister Role
Workneh Gebeyehu (PhD) Minister of Foreign Affairs
Muferiat Kamil Minister of Peace
Engineer Aisha Mohammed Minister of Defence
Tilaye Gete (PhD) Minister of Education
Omer Husen Minister of Agriculture
Ahmed Shide Minister of Finance and Economic Cooperation
Amir Aman (PhD) Minister of Health
Dagmawit Moges Minister of Transport
Jantrar Abay Minister of Urban Development and Construction
Hirut Woldemariam (PhD) Minister of Science and Higher Education
Yealem Tsegaye Minister of Women, Children and Youth
Fetlework Gebregziabher Minister of Trade and Industry
Sileshi Bekele (PhD) Minister of Water, Irrigation and Energy
Samuel Hurka (PhD) Minister of Mines and Petroleum
Hirut Kassaw (PhD) Minister of Culture and Tourism
Ergoge Tesfaye (PhD) Minister of Labour and Social Affairs
Adanech Abebe Ministry of Revenue
Getahun Mekuria Minister of Innovation and Technology
Fitsum Assefa (PhD) Minister of Planning and Development Commission
Berhanu Tsegay Attorney General with the Rank of Minister

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