One year ago AradaOnline started publishing a list of the most influential Ethiopian women to acknowledge their achievements and inspire the next generation of powerful female leaders in every aspect of life. This year the list grew to include 10 Ethiopian women from the previous year’s 5 and covered a wider category of focus areas to compile the list. Here are a top ten women AradaOnline believe are currently influential in Ethiopia. The list was compiled based on individual contribution to success, value of activity they are involved in and media presence.
Eleni Zaude: Making the list for the second time in a year, Eleni’s strong commitment to improve the Ethiopian Commodity Exchange continued strongly under her guidance. The commodity exchange which she started modern coffee trade in 2008 expanded to include other agricultural products and traded a 600,000 tons of agricultural products worth 21 billion birr in this Ethiopian year. The success of the exchange motivated other African countries such as Ghana and Rwanda to establish a related programs and Dr. Eleni was present to share her experiences with them. After managing the ECX as a CEO for 4 years, Dr. Eleni resigned from the position to start an advisory role as the management is being replaced by local talent.
Sinkinesh Ejigu: is the highest ranking female government official as she is one of the two female members of the Ethiopian cabinet and currently managing the expanding Ministry of Mines. With a continued interest in gold and oil explorations in Ethiopia from foreign and local investors, Sinkinesh has been touted as the close-watching captain of the mining industry. Very strong decision maker who does not shy away from tough situations, Sinkinesh is managing a sector which brought more than USD 800 million to the economy this Ethiopian year.
Mulu Solomon: is a respected and experienced business woman currently working as the president of the country’s chamber of commerce. Before becoming the president of the private business owner’s association, Mulu was a member of the Directors board for the local Addis Ababa chamber of commerce. Mulu is known for her dynamic personality and exceptional inter personal skill that helped her accomplish success as a leader, manager, entrepreneur and a business consultant. Mulu is also sharing her experience to the academic world by serving as the chair of entrepreneurship at the Addis Ababa Institute of Architecture and Building Construction (EiABC).
Bethelhem Tilahun: Being part of Fortune’s women to watch, Africa’s most successful women, Top 20 young African power women lists all attest to the achievements of this young dynamic business woman. Her company, SoleRebels, produces an eco friendly handmade shoes which are sold in 55 countries via number of international stores as her business grows from a start up capital of USD 10000 in 2004 to USD 1 million in 2011. Her fair trade business model continues to support local community and her ambition is set at expanding her revenue to USD 20 million in the coming four years.
Birtukan Mideksa: Even though she has drifted away from the political spectrum after she moved to the United States for her post graduate study, Birtukan still remains the most influential woman whose opinion matters in Ethiopian politics. Birtukan hasn’t mentioned her future political directions but the fact that she is studying a closely related field for her post graduate study indicates that she will not be far from the playing field in the future. Birtukan is currently a visiting fellow at the famous Harvard law school doing her research on independence of judiciary in closed societies.
Azeb Asnake: is a civil engineer who is currently the Project Manger at the Gilgel Gibe III hydro electric power station construction. Estimated to generate around 1870 MW of electricity Gibe III is one of the biggest construction projects in the country consuming around USD 2 billion upon full completion. In addition to managing the huge construction project on behalf of the Ethiopian Electric Power Corporation, Azeb has also represented the country in different international gatherings related with hydro electric power generation.
Abebech Gobena: Also known as the African Mother Teresa, Abebech is doing a tremendous job taking care of thousands of Ethiopian orphans and supporting unprivileged women to build a sustainable life. Second time in this list, Mrs Abebech continue to be a role model of good will and helping the less fortunate. Her foundation continued to expand exponentially and now include activities such as investment and capacity building, environmental protection, economic empowerment and small scale relief assistance.
Tirunesh Dibaba: is the most decorated female Olympian of the country collecting three gold and two bronze medals at three different summer Olympics events. Also known by her nick name “baby face destroyer”, Tirunesh has amassed a number of international prizes in the long distance athletics competitions including four world champions, five cross country champions and two african champions. Tirunesh is involved in a lot of charity activities and supports a hospital located on the out skirts of Addis Abeba which was built by funds from the Chinese government and named after her.
Meaza Ashenafi: Second time in the list Mrs. Meaza is a champion of women rights in Ethiopia. She is currently a senior Women’s right advisor to the UNECA and also serving as Chair of the Directors Board at Enat Bank. She was one of the main promoters of the bank which targets female business owners and prospective female clients. Meaza was one of the strong advocates for the revision of family law in Ethiopia to protect women from abuses. Her tireless activism went on for four years before it was approved by the Ethiopian parliament.
Sister Zebider Zewdie: is a famous humanitarian advocate who has been running a non-governmental charity organisation known as Maryjoy for the past 18 years. The maryjoy development association currently performs an array of humanitarian activities throughout Ethiopia focusing on children support, HIV prevention and patient caring, economic empowerment of poor families, promotion of urban agriculture and supporting orphans.
Honorable mentions – Meseret Defar (athlete), Ambassador Konjit Sinegiorgis (diplomat), Hannah Godefa (young humanitarian), Amsale Gualu (Airplane Captain), Sophia Bekele (IT professional)