Ethopia’s Catholic Bishops say it is a blessing to see that Ethiopians are recognizing the invaluable talent women have to offer to the integral development of the nation. And we say it will be an equal blessing when the same truth is recognized within the majority of Christian denominations, including the Roman Catholic Church.
La Croix International reports that Catholic bishops in Ethiopia’s have welcomed the election of the nation’s first female president, Sahle-Work Zewde, and said they were pleased that women are getting their rightful place in the country.
The Catholic Church in Ethiopia is optimistic that Zewde’s election will inspire women and girls to reach their full potential as influential actors in society, Vatican News reported.
Zewde, 68, had earlier served as Ethiopia’s representative to the United Nations, and as director-general of the U.N. offices in Nairobi met Pope Francis in 2015.
“The Ethiopian Catholic Church believes that President Sahle-Work Zewde, who has years of impressive diplomatic experience, will further strengthen the leading role Ethiopia is playing in the region and further enhance the soft power of the country at an international level,” according to a statement from the Ethiopian Catholic Secretariat.
It is a blessing to see that Ethiopians are recognizing the invaluable talent women have to offer to the integral development of the nation, it said.
The Catholic Church in Ethiopia has for years worked towards the empowerment of women by providing young girls with education and opportunities for them to explore their potential.
In Ethiopia, the office of president is mostly ceremonial, with the prime minister holding the political power.
Zewde was recently elected by Ethiopian Members of Parliament to succeed president Mulatu Tehsome who resigned following a cabinet reshuffle.
Ethiopia’s de facto leader Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed welcomed the election of the new head of state saying, “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 normalizes women as decision-makers in public life.”
Zewde’s appointment as president makes her the only female head of state in Africa. The last African female head of state was Mauritian President Ameenah Gurib-Fakim who resigned in March over an expenses scandal.
Ellen Johnson Sirleaf who served as the 24th President of Liberia from January 2006 to January 2018 was the first elected female head of state in Africa.
Ethiopia, a predominantly agricultural country that suffers from poverty, drought, political repression, and forced government resettlement, has a population of 105 million people.
Ethiopian Orthodox comprise 43.5 percent of the population, Muslims 33.9 percent, Protestants 18.5 percent and Catholics 0.7 percent. Traditional and others make up the rest.