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Ethiopia Elects First Female President

Last month in Ethiopia, a spark of hope shined a light on women’s empowerment and the advancement of women’s roles in a male-dominated society.  

On October 25, Ethiopian members of parliament elected Sahle-Work Zewde as the country’s first female president. She has a steady background of diplomatic work, involvement as an ambassador for Ethiopia in several countries, and is even fluent in three languages. Her success carries from her university education in France as well as her credibility in knowing the Ethiopian system inside-out. A woman granted this position in modern-aged Ethiopia is a big step forward in breaking the glass ceiling.

According to the USAID, “In Ethiopia… women provide the majority of the agriculture labor… However, women’s access to resources and community participation are usually mediated through men, either their fathers or husbands.” There is a discouraging lack of decision-making power for women and a lack of support economically, socially, and educationally. There have been organizations and programs made to create opportunities for women and young girls, but an absence of peace within the country is also a contributing factor.

Sahle-Work will inspire millions of woman, and her upcoming presidency isn’t the first time she’s rocked Ethiopian society. Aljazeera states, “She was the first woman to be appointed by the international body as special representative to the African Union and head of the United Nations Office to the African Union.” She, along with half of the other cabinet filled with women, will be striving to promote gender equality. Having a voice for female rights and peace will create major changes in the upcoming years for Ethiopia and the rest of Africa.

Women need to be put into a place of power and leadership alongside men in order to create lasting impacts in communities all over the world. Opened opportunities for women to make a difference show other women that they can do whatever they set their minds to. And Sahle-Work Zewde is a prime example of that.

I graduated from the University of Akron in 2019 majoring in Communications of Public Relations with a minor in Biology. Aspiring writer/journalist for wildlife conservation. (She/Her)
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