Women

At 27, Emma Theofelus is the current youngest serving government minister in Africa

On March 27, 2020, Emma Inamutila Theofelus became the youngest current serving minister in Namibia and Africa, following her appointment by President Hage Geingob as the Deputy Minister of Information, Communication, and Technology for a five-year term (March 2020 – March 2025). Theofelus, who was 23 at the time of her appointment, became a member of parliament and cabinet minister tasked with the responsibility of leading Namibia’s official Covid-19 communication program.

Before her appointment, Theofelus was a youth activist and advocate for gender equality, child’s rights, youth employment, and sustainable development. Her previous roles as the Speaker of the Youth Parliament of Namibia (2013 – 2018), and former Junior Mayor of the City of Windhoek, prepared her ahead of time with the leadership skills to handle her tasks as deputy minister.

“We all started somewhere. I am not new to leadership and I will leverage the skills and experience I gained in my activism to make a success of this new role. I believe that I am well on my way.” – Theofelus.

Theofelus was born on March 28, 1996, graduated with a degree in law from the University of Namibia, and holds a diploma in African feminism and gender studies from the University of South Africa. She began her career as a legal officer in the Ministry of Justice before the call to serve the country in a higher ministerial role.

She is the former Vice Chairperson of the Global Entrepreneurs Network Namibia Board, the Commissioner of UNESCO Namibia, and a member of the Namibia Chapter of AfriYAN. She is currently a board member of the Leadership Council of Africa REACH.

In 2021, she proposed a motion in the parliament for the removal of the tax on sanitary pads. The motion was effected when Lipumbu Shiime, the Minister of Finance, announced the removal of Value Added Tax on sanitary pads, in line with the Tax Amendment Act of 2022, which came into effect on January 1, 2023.

In her present office, she is focused on the key goals of communicating governments programs effectively, optimizing the use of the Multi-Purpose Community Centers as ICT hubs for the communities that have limited access to ICT, ending the digital disparity in the country through the prioritization of ICT infrastructure development, climate change, youth participation in parliament, E-parliament, and parliamentary research.

Her appointment has somewhat portrayed Namibia as a youth-friendly and gender-sensitive country. Theofelus follows an earlier historical achievement made by Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila, who became Prime Minster of Namibia on March 2015, making her the first-ever woman to hold the role.

Theofelus was honored among the BBC’s 100 Women 2021.

Ben Ebuka

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