Ethiopia elects first female president


Photo credit to Flickr

Sahle-Work Zewde sits in on a meeting at UNON Nairobi, Kenya in 2016. Her previous experience as the General of the United Nations Office at Nairobi will help improve policy action during her presidency.

Lindsey Rothenstein, News Editor

After President Mulatu Teshome unexpectedly resigned from office on Oct.25, the Federal Parliamentary Assembly appointed Sahle-Work Zewde as the new head of the Ethiopian government. Zewde is the fourth president and first female president elected since the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) coalition adopted power in 1991.

The Ethiopian parliament vote for Zewde was unanimous. Her ceremonial role adoption was followed by congratulatory messages from the African Union (AU), the United Nations and the European Union. Zewde worked as a diplomat for three decades prior to her election as President. Her credentials include serving as Ethiopia’s ambassador to France, Djibouti, Senegal and serving as the UN’s top official in the AU.

“As a person who knows the Ethiopian system inside out, Zewde, as president, will offer more continuity in terms of policy but will have her own priorities, including female empowerment,” Abebe Aynete, a senior researcher at the Ethiopian Foreign Relations Strategic Studies think-tank, said.

The country has made noticeable progress in terms of women in power, as Meaza Ashenafi was recently appointed as the first female president of Ethiopia’s Supreme Court. Additionally, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed filled half of his cabinet with women in early October.

“I think it’s pretty cool for a poverty stricken country too have such diverse representation in their government,” junior Graham Harper said. “It hopefully reflects the future of gender equality in our political systems.”