South Africa President, Cyril Ramaphosa

South Africa’s new cabinet which was announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa on Wednesday became the third on the African continent to have an equal number of female and male ministers.

President Ramaphosa, who hailed the cabinet for making history as the first gender-parity cabinet in the country’s history, joins Ethiopia’s Abiy Ahmed and Rwanda’s Paul Kagame in taking similar actions.

The female ministers appointed by Ramaphosa include Thoko Didiza (Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development), Angie Motshekga (Basic Education), Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams (Communications) and Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma (Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs).

Others are Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula (Defence and Military Veterans), Barbara Creecy (Environment, Forestry and Fisheries), Lindiwe Sisulu (Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation), Naledi Pandor (International Relations and Cooperation).

Others are Maite Nkoana-Mashabane (Minister in the Presidency for Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities), Patricia De Lille (Public Works and Infrastructure), Khumbudzo Ntshavheni (Small Business Development), Lindiwe Zulu (Social Development), Ayanda Dlodlo (State Security) and Nkhensani Kubayi-Ngubane (Tourism). 

Rwanda, who are global leaders in women’s representation in parliament at 61 percent maintained a gender-balanced cabinet in last year’s October reshuffle.

President Kagame had told the parliament that he believes that women play a key role in addressing challenges hindering the socio-economic well being of all Rwandan citizens.

“Adding the number of women in these institutions should help in fixing these issues. If there are specific problems that concern girls and women, they should use all the tools available to make a difference,” Kagame said.

Ethiopia’s reformist Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed who has been hailed for making bold moves since taking office in April last year included women in key government positions. 

In October last year, Abiy appointed a cabinet with 10 male and 10 female ministers. He has also appointed a female Chief Justice and a woman as President and Chairman of the country’s electoral commission.

Globally, there are 11 countries that have named gender-balanced cabinets over the past four years. Canada, Colombia, Costa Rica, France, Nicaragua, Seychelles, Spain and Sweden make up the list.