Ethiopia’s new Cabinet is now 50% female, including the country’s first woman defense minister, after lawmakers on Tuesday unanimously approved the nominations put forward by reformist Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed.
“Our women ministers will disprove the old adage that women can’t lead,” Abiy said while presenting his choices. “This decision is the first in the history of Ethiopia and probably in Africa.”
Ethiopia has faced sweeping political and economic reforms since the 42-year-old prime minister took office in April after months of anti-government protests and made pledges that include free and fair elections.
The Horn of Africa power joins a handful of countries, mostly European, where women make up 50% or more of ministerial positions, according to the Inter-Parliamentary Union and U.N. Women.
French President Emmanuel Macron and Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau in recent years unveiled “gender-balanced” Cabinets. Aisha Mohammed Musa will lead Ethiopia’s defense ministry.
Another woman, Muferiat Kamil, will lead the new Ministry of Peace and will oversee the powerful National Intelligence and Security Service, the Information Network Security Agency, the Federal Police Commission and the Finance Security and Information Center, Abiy’s office confirmed Tuesday.