First Female Prime Minister Appointed in DR Congo: More Female African Leaders to Come?

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Democratic Republic of Congo’s President Felix Tshisekedi appointed the country’s first-ever female Prime Minister, naming planning Minister Judith Suminwa Tuluka.

“I know that the task is great and the challenges [are] immense, but with the support of the president and that of everyone, we will get there,” Ms Tuluka said at a press conference on Monday after her appointment.

Who is Judith Suminwa Tuluka?

Ms Tuluka is a member of the ruling Union for Democracy and Social Progress party, which won 69 seats in the 500-member National Assembly, securing its position as the leading party among 44 others in the general elections held in December 2023.

She was an economist working for the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) as the coordinator for the Consolidation of Peace and Strengthening of Democracy pillar in Congo’s national capital, Kinshasa.

She also served as the deputy coordinator of the Presidential Strategic Monitoring Council (CPVS), a technical structure whose main mission is to monitor and evaluate the commitments made by the DRC President.

Also, read The Blood Gold Mines of The Congo Offer Lessons for Tanzania’s Mining Sector.

In 2023, she was selected as the Planning Minister, making her the third woman in Lukonde’s cabinet. She holds a Master’s degree in applied economics and a diploma of additional studies in Work in developing countries. She completed her higher education at the Free University of Brussels (ULB).

What is She Up Against in Her New Role?

As the head of the government, the Prime Minister advises the President and oversees the day-to-day operations of the state. This involves leading the Cabinet, a group of ministers chosen by the President and approved by the National Assembly. Together, they work on implementing government policies and initiatives.

Ms Tuluka will have to push the president’s declared priorities of employment, youth, women and national cohesion for the nation of about 100 million people. As the Prime Minister, she will work closely with the National Assembly to pass laws that reflect the nation’s priorities and build relationships to ensure that government agendas align with legislative goals.

The new prime minister will be tasked to develop policies that address important issues facing the country. This requires collaboration with government officials, stakeholders, and experts to create strategies that meet the needs of the Congolese people.

According to Reuters, in 2023, “the IMF projected growth at 8 per cent this year but warned of downside risks from the armed conflict to the country’s east. A rebel group known as the M23 staged a major offensive in east Congo last year, adding to decades of militia violence in the central African country’s mineral-rich provinces.”

It added, “Mineral wealth, including vast reserves of copper, cobalt and gold, has stoked conflict between militias, government troops and even foreign invaders. Mining production, which grew at around 20%, was stronger than expected and more than compensated for a downward revision of non-extractive growth to 3.2%, down from 3.9%. Annual inflation reached 13.1% at the end of 2022 due to higher food, energy, and transport prices.”

Don’t Miss Out: How Tshisekedi Victory in DRC Will Make or Break EAC.

Is Africa Embracing Female Leadership?

According to the Rwanda parliament website, “Women count for roughly half the world’s population yet they occupy less than a quarter of political seats. Rwanda is an outlier, with more women in power, proportionally than any other country. Rwanda is the first country in the world with a female majority in parliament, with 61.3% in the Chamber of Deputies and 37.4% in the Senate.”

Tanzania is not far off from reaching the goal. According to the Global Gender Gap Report of 2023, which measures the difference between men and women in holding political and economic opportunities, education, and health care, “the level of progress toward gender parity (the parity score) for each indicator for women to the value for men. A parity score of 1 indicates full parity. The gender gap is the distance from full parity.”

The current president of Tanzania, President Samia Suluhu Hassan, is an excellent example. First elected to public office in 2000, she came to national prominence in 2014 when she was elected Vice President of the Constituent Assembly responsible for drafting Tanzania’s new constitution.

After the 2015 general election, she became the first female vice president of Tanzania, alongside President John Magufuli. This was and is a significant achievement in Tanzania’s politics, highlighting the crucial role of gender equality and women’s empowerment in national leadership.

According to the Africa Faith and Justice Network, “these African women in power stand on the shoulders of many female giants, known and unknown, remembered and forgotten, who came before them. These include, for example, but are not limited to, the Dahomey Amazons of Benin, an all-female military regiment on whose shoulders stand many women serving in the armed services and law enforcement.”

It continues to add, “The contribution of women to what Africa is today is unquestionable. However, the recovery from the disruptive and brutal colonization and slave trade has been very slow.  Partially, African leaders, mostly male, who mismanaged, abused and continue to abuse their power since the end of colonization equally share the blame for disempowering African women whose contribution is unequivocally needed to build a more prosperous, just and peaceful Africa.”

Kubhota joined Tanzania Digest as a contributor. He writes about technology and current trends.

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