Ethiopia has taken a major step toward gender equity within its government. According to the BBC, the nation in the Horn of Africa has appointed women to half of its government's top ministerial posts.


"Our women ministers will disprove the old adage that women can't lead," said Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed when he announced the names on Tuesday. "This decision is the first in the history of Ethiopia and probably in Africa."

With this new move, Ethiopia joins Rwanda as the only African nation to boast equal gender representation in its cabinet. Each of the prime minister's nominations were unanimously approved by legislators, Al Jazeera reports.

The posts receiving new, women heads include the ministry of defense, which oversees federal police as well as the intelligence and information security departments, The Washington Post reports.

To support his decision, Abiy described women as being less corrupt than men and as having played an important part in restoring peace and stability in the country. Since taking office in April, Abiy has implemented several significant reforms, including ending the two-decade conflict with Eritrea. His government has faced major challenges, however, including budget constraints and ethnic clashes in southern Ethiopia, where fighting has displaced nearly 1 million people. 

According to analysts, the new department heads also help make the cabinet reflect the demographics of the country. Two of the new ministers, for instance, are Muslim women who wear hijabs. 

“Muslims were historically underrepresented,” analyst Hallelujah Lulie said. “It is a good move. It projects a good image. It’s inspiring in many ways.”

The PM supported this view, and said he hopes to send a message to his citizens that the government will represent everyone going forward.

"Inclusiveness and coexistence is critical in Ethiopia because of differences in terms of tribalism, and religion and the virtually feudal system of land ownership which prevailed in the past,” Abiy said.

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