President Sahle-Work Zewde Commends Ireland
January 10, 2019 (Ezega.com) - While meeting Irish Prime Minister, Leo Varadkar, Ethiopia’s first female president, Sahle-Work Zewde has paid tribute to Ireland for setting a good example in appointing women to high offices.
She commended Ireland during a meeting with Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Leo Varadkar on the first day of his visit to Ethiopia. Despite the two nations having diplomatic ties for more than 25 years, this is the first official visit by a Taoiseach to the country.
Addressing the Irish media after the meeting, the president congratulated Ireland for leading the world on female presidents.
“Congratulations for showing the way for having female presidents. I’m humbled with the opportunity I have here and hope we will encourage other countries to do the same. So you have a good example that women can actually do their jobs, I’m trying to do that as well.” She said.
It is no secret that Irish women enjoy more rights, but gender equality is yet to be achieved in many sectors. Men still dominate many influential positions in the workplace where they make important decisions regarding business and politics, but Ireland is making progress more than many countries globally.
In fact, Ireland has adopted laws for equal rights between men and women in areas like when applying for a job, protection of pregnant workers, equal treatment at the workplace, protection of breastfeeding mothers and right to maternity leave.
The leader, who’s the only female president in the continent said she’d like to visit Ireland someday.
Gender equality remains elusive for Ethiopia, where it ranks poorly in teenage pregnancies, women unemployment and education rates among women, compared to their male counterparts. But that is likely to change as the current regime is keen on ensuring it achieves gender balance.
Gender-based violence remains a challenge. Ethiopia ranks high in female genital mutilation (FGM) and domestic violence despite improvements and regional differences. Nonetheless, the fact that Ethiopia has a woman president is of importance because women find it significant. It is a good step towards fighting for women and realizing gender equality.
The ties between Ethiopia and Ireland were the focus of the visit. Since 1994, Ireland has been involved in development programs in Ethiopia. The project is arguably Ireland’s largest in a foreign land, and it is expected to increase the amount of money pumped into this project in 2019, bearing in mind last year they spent more than 30 million euros in the country.
The president was optimistic Ireland will play a crucial role in Ethiopia’s ongoing reforms.
“We’ve had a long-lasting tie that has grown and we hope Ireland will continue supporting the all-round transformation the country is going through. We rely on our long-lasting partners and Ireland is one of them,” said the president.
Speaking at the presidential palace where he met the prime minister, Mr. Varadkar said he was received well. He also reiterated the two countries want to tighten their bilateral engagements.
He also attended the Ethio-Ireland alumni network launch and said Europe should work with Ireland in an effort to expand educational ties with Ethiopia.
“Looking at the present generation of Africa leaders, it’s likely they received their education in America and Europe. And there’s a huge possibility the next generation of African leaders are those educated in Beijing and Shanghai.” He said.
Mr. Varadkar paid tribute to Ireland’s role in diplomacy and aid in Ethiopia and was offered insights to that role when he met Markos Tekle, the Foreign Affairs State Minister, who was schooled in an Irish Aid high school.
The Taoiseach was adamant Ireland will continue supporting Ethiopia, especially in its agro-processing investments.
Half Indian and openly gay, Prime Minister Varadkar has come to embody the liberalisation of a country which was once regarded as one of the most socially conservative in Europe.
Surprisingly, Mr Varadkar's sexuality and ethnic background have not been prominent in Irish politics, focussing instead on socio-economic issues, recovery from the financial disaster of several years ago, and how to manage Brexit.
By Solomon O. for Ezega News