Sahle-Work Zewde Becomes Ethiopia's First Female President
The former diplomat was chosen for the ceremonial role in a unanimous vote by parliament on Thursday.
In yet another history-making move, Ethiopia's parliament has chosen former top diplomat, Sahle-Work Zewde as the country's new president, making her the first woman to serve in the position and the only current female head of state in Africa.
Her appointment comes after the landmark decision, spearheaded by reformist Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed last week, to appoint 50 precent of Ethiopia's cabinet positions to women.
President Zewde was sworn in by a unanimous vote during the second Special Joint Session of Ethiopia's two houses of parliament on Thursday, reports Al Jazeera. She takes on the largely ceremonial position, following the unexpected resignation of former president Mulatu Teshome.
During her speech in parliament the new head of state urged members to work towards peace in the nation, especially for the sake of women. "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."
Zewde has served in several high-level diplomatic positions throughout her career. She was the head of the UN office to the African Union immediately before her appointment. Prior to that she head of peace-building in Central African Republic for the UN, and she served as an ambassador for Ethiopia in Senegal and Djibouti, according to BBC Africa.
"In a patriarchal society such as ours, the appointment of a female head of state not only sets the standard for the future but also normalises women as decision-makers in public life," wrote the prime minister's chief of staff, Fitsum Arega on Twitter.
The symbolic decision is being celebrated by Ethiopians and international observers, who are expressing pride at the progress being made in the country's political sphere towards gender inclusion.