Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali has been awarded the African Excellence Award for Gender, which he showcased recently at his first ordinary summit. The Ethiopian leader hosted African leaders in 2018 for an extraordinary summit convened to discuss reforms within the African Union.

He was awarded for his gender appointments over the course of 2018, including the confirmation of Ethiopia’s first woman president, the first woman chief justice, a former judge to head the elections body ahead of crucial elections slated for 2020, and a gender-equal Cabinet. Other notable mentions are Aisha Mohammed, the first female defence minister, and former Speaker of parliament, Muferiat Kamil, who was appointed head of the Ministry for Peace, which oversees a number of security and intelligence agencies.

By entrusting to women roles hitherto reserved for men the prime minister has shown great support for women and the importance of gender equity in leadership.

Read: How change happened in Ethiopia: a review of how Abiy rose to power

The African Excellence Award for Gender was established in 2005 by Femmes Africa Solidarité (FAS) and its Pan-African Centre for Gender, Peace and Development (PAC), in partnership with the Gender is My Agenda Campaign network. Traditionally it is awarded by the AU in conjunction with the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, UNECA.

32nd AU Heads of State summit photo credit Office of the Prime Minister-Ethiopia Facebook page

The award acknowledges African leaders who have made remarkable progress in the equalising of the genders, as recommended by Solemn Declaration On Gender Equality In Africa, SDGEA. In the past it has been awarded to Presidents Abdoulaye Wade of Senegal in 2003, Thabo Mbeki of South Africa in 2005, Paul Kagame of Rwanda in 2007, Armando Guebuza of Mozambique in 2009 and Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf of Liberia in 2011.

In 2017 the African Excellence Award for Gender was awarded to the president of the Republic of Namibia, Dr Hage Geingob, for his continued effort to establish a legal and policy framework for the promotion and protection of women’s rights in Namibia. Among these are the successful implementation of regional instruments such as the Maputo Protocol and SDGEA which guarantee equality between women and men.