The Ahmed and Zewde Effect: Strides for a Better Ethiopia

What a year for Ethiopia! There has been so much tension between the government and the people throughout the years regarding issues of inequality, foreign relations and so much more, but 2011 (Ethiopian Calendar) has been a pivotal turning point that has helped improve its social and political climate, creating a more progressive country. A new prime minister, favored by most of Ethiopia, with plans of major social change has been elected and Ethiopia has gained its first female president who is striving to make a point in gender equality rights within the country. So, who are these two game changers and how exactly are they affecting the people of Ethiopia?

Well, first things first, the newly elected prime minister in April is Abiy Ahmed. He is the first Oromo leader, an ethnic group within Ethiopia that covers about 35 percent of the population, to be elected after the sudden resignation of Hailemariam Desalegn. In his time in office so far, he has worked to end the two-decade conflict between Ethiopia and Eretria. He has also liberated many prisoners when he lifted the state of emergency imposed by Desalegn in February against protesters of the Ethiopians People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front. This lift also helped unblock many websites and channels that were banned by the previous government in fear of influence. He also helped end the state of war between Ethiopia and Eritrea by agreeing to a border ruling giving territory to Eritrea. Abiy is also a huge advocator of women appointing women to about half of ministerial posts. All I got to say to that is Trump, take notes! In the beginning of November he helped swear in the first Supreme Court President, Meaza Ashenafi.

Now you’re probably wondering, who’s this other game changer? Her name is Sahle-Work Zewde and she was elected on the 25th of October as the 4th president of Ethiopia, and the first woman to hold that position. Before becoming president, she served as Special Representative of United Nations Secretary-General and she was the second woman to serve as an Ambassador. She pledged to promote peace as President, saying, “I urge you all, to uphold our peace, in the name of a mother, who is the first to suffer from the absence of peace." She plans to work hard to help with the issue of gender equality in Ethiopia, taking a strong stance in order to make strives for a better and equal opportunity atmosphere in Ethiopia.

Abiy Ahmed and Sahle-Work Zewde are two symbols of the evolution of Ethiopia in its journey to true peace and equality. Steps are being taken to change the way policy is being implemented as well as viewed not only in Ethiopia but its effect on Africa as a whole. As a proud Ethiopian American, I am proud to say that I get to witness history being made in the fight for peace and equality amongst the people of Ethiopia as well as its foreign partners.

Sources: BBC article 1, article