Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, flanked by parliament speaker Muferiat Kamil, addresses the members of parliament inside the House of Peoples' Representatives during a meeting for the approval of the 2018-19 budget in Addis Ababa, July 6, 2018. (Photo: VCG)
Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed on Tuesday unveiled a downsized cabinet where, in a first, half the members are women, a top official said.
Women occupy key positions in the 20-member cabinet that includes a newly created Ministry of Peace to oversee the federal police and intelligence agencies, said Fitsum Arega, Abiy's chief of staff.
Ethiopia is now the second African nation after Rwanda to achieve gender parity in its cabinet, and one of only a handful of nations to achieve this worldwide.
"Women are assigned to run key ministerial portfolios including ministries of Peace, Trade, and Industry, and Defense," he tweeted.
The new Minister of National Defense, Aisha Mohammed, is the first woman to hold the post.
Aisha was earlier construction minister and before that in-charge of the tourism ministry. She is from the drought-prone and poor Afar region, where she had once headed the disaster prevention office.
Minister of Peace Muferiat Kamil is a former speaker of parliament.
The previous cabinet had 28 ministers, of which only five were women.
Kenya currently also has a female defense minister, Raychelle Omamo, while South Africa, Guinea-Bissau, Cape Verde, Madagascar, Sao Tome and Principe, Gabon, Nigeria and the Central African Republic have all in the past appointed women to the job.
The shake-up is the latest in a series of dramatic reforms implemented by Abiy since he took office in April after more than two years of anti-government unrest that contributed to his predecessor's sudden resignation.