Ethiopia: Gender parity in Abiy Ahmed’s new cabinet

by Engidu Woldie
ESAT News (October 16, 2018)

Ethiopia’s reformist Prime Minister appointed women in half of his cabinet positions in a move to ensure gender parity in a government hitherto dominated by men.

“Of the 20 cabinet members, 10 or 50% are women,” Abiy Ahmed told MPs as he announces his cabinet to the Ethiopian Parliament today.

But the cabinet was still 100% controlled by the ruling EPRDF, a coalition of four ethnic parties, each sending their nominees for the ministerial positions. It has always been predictable and a done deal; except that this time around, Dr. Ahmed wanted women to take bigger roles in the government.

The EPRDF ruled the country for over 27 years now.

Aisha Mohammed, an engineer by profession, a hijab wearing muslim woman, became the first woman to be the Minister of Defense.

The former house speaker, Muferiat Kamil, also a muslim, now assumes a newly formed position of Minister of Peace, a powerful position that oversees eight agencies and commissions like the National Intelligence and Security Agency, the Information Network Security Agency, the Federal Police Commission and the National Disaster Management Commission among others.

Transport, Revenue, Trade and Industry, Science were also among the Ministeries to be headed by women.

Dr. Ahmed said he believes the newly appointed Ministers would help push his reform agenda and fight corruption.

Of the twenty Ministers, four have remained in their position, including the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Workneh Gebeyehu and the General Prosecutor Berhanu Tsegaye.

Last week, Abiy Ahmed announced that he had downsized his cabinet positions from 28 to 20, merging some portfolios and creating new ones like the Minister of Peace.