Who is Sahle-Work Zewde, the first female president of Ethiopia

After a series of diplomatic assignments, including with the United Nations, Sahle-Work Zewde has become the first female president of Ethiopia.

Sahle-Work Zewde is the first woman to have been elected president of Ethiopia, and is currently the only female head of state in the whole of Africa. The parliament in the capital Addis Ababa elected her on the 25th of October, a week after Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed formed a new government, half of which is made up of women.

Sahle-Work Zewde, her first speech dedicated to peace

In her first speech, Sahle-Work spoke of the importance of maintaining peace. She was referring to the brave measures taken by the prime minister, who has started a process of quick rapprochement with Eritrea after an armed conflict that has lasted for twenty years.

“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,” Abiy’s chief of staff, Fitsum Arega, commented.

Sahle-Work previously held the role of special representative of the United Nations’ Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, to the African Union. She has also been ambassador to France and Senegal, as well as Permanent Representative to the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), an East-African trade bloc.

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