Ethiopia’s parliament has made Sahle-Work Zewde the country’s first female president. And while the role is largely ceremonial, her appointment carries power in what it signifies.
Sahle-Work, an experienced diplomat, is the first female head of state in Ethiopia’s modern history. In June, U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres appointed Sahle-Work as special representative to the African Union and head of the U.N. Office to the African Union — the first woman in the role. She was previously director-general of the U.N. Office at Nairobi and held a range of diplomatic posts, including Ethiopia’s ambassador to France and Djibouti.
.@SahleWorkZewde's been officially sworn in as the President of the Federal Democratic Republic of #Ethiopia. Since June 2018, she served as Head of @UNOAU_ & Special Representative of the Secretary-General to the #AfricanUnion. #UNOAU staff expressed gratitude & congratulations pic.twitter.com/hqQnew7it7
— UN Office to the AU (@UNOAU_) October 25, 2018
« A career diplomat & senior official at the UN, she brings the right competence & experience to the office, » Fitsum Arega, chief of staff to the prime minister’s office, tweeted on Thursday. « 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. »
In a historic move, the two Houses has elected Ambassador Shalework Zewde as the next President of #Ethiopia. She is the first female head of state in modern Ethiopia. A career diplomat & senior official at the UN, she brings the right competence & experience to the office. (1)
— Fitsum Arega (@fitsumaregaa) October 25, 2018
In Ethiopia, the prime minister holds the executive power. According to the Ethiopian Constitution, presidential powers and functions include appointing ambassadors, receiving foreign envoys and granting pardons.