Ethiopia’s new Cabinet 50 percent women, including defense: rare step in Africa.

 Ethiopia’s new Cabinet is now a record 50 percent female, including a woman defense minister, after lawmakers unanimously approved the nominations put forward by reformist Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, as reported by The Associated Press.

HE PM Abiy Ahmed has formed a new cabinet. He downsized the number of ministerial positions to 20. Women comprise 50% of the new cabinet. Women are assigned to run key ministerial portfolios including ministries of Peace, Trade, and Industry, and Defense

WHY IT MATTERS: African governments have been criticized for being more chauvinistic, thus relegating women to the inferior status in African politics. But Ethiopia has shown that it is resisting this trend in Africa by setting a government made up of the half female members of the government. Thus, it has been a challenge for years for African women to engage in politics.

A woman also leads the newly formed Ministry of Peace. Ethiopia’s parliament, the House of Peoples’ Representatives, has chosen a former Minister of Women’s Affairs, as its new speaker, state-affiliated FANA Broadcasting Corporate reports.

The defense ministry is also to be handed for the first time in the country’s history to a woman, Aisha Mohammed, till now was Minister of Construction. Dagmawit Mogus, deputy mayor of Addis Ababa heads to Ministry of Transport.

Abiy said Tuesday while presenting his nominations that “our women ministers will disprove the old adage that women can’t lead.”

Former House speaker Muferiat Kamil will lead the Ministry of Peace at a time when Africa’s second most populous country faces sometimes violent ethnic tensions amid sweeping political and economic reforms.

Aisha Mohammed Musa will lead the defense ministry.

This 20-member Cabinet is the second one named since Abiy took office in April. The first was criticized for the low number of female ministers, as reported by Washington Post.

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