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South Africa Becomes 11th Country to Appoint Gender-Balanced Cabinet

by Noa Wollstein

Following new appointments by President Cyril Ramaphosa last Wednesday, half of the South African cabinet is now composed of women. The fourth African country to achieve gender parity in its cabinet—Seychelles, Ethiopia, and Rwanda beat it to the punch—the South African cabinet’s new 50-50 ratio brings up the total number of gender-balanced cabinets to an all-time high of eleven, according to India Today.

Less than a year after sitting President Cyril Ramaphosa took over for disgraced President Jacob Zuma, who resigned following pending criminal charges and extremely questionable financial decisions, minimizing government corruption remains a top priority. Attempting to weed out graft and slash governmental expenditures, President Rampahosa reduced the size of the cabinet from, what he referred to as a “bloated” 36 members to a lean 28. Included in the list of cuts from the former cabinet is Bathabile Dlamini, who served as the Minister of Women in the Presidency.

Dlamini is credited with massive abuses of government funds, with “irregular expenditures” alone coming in at 1.3 billion Rand—approximately $87 million—according to The South African. Removed from the cabinet for this history of corruption, Dlamini is nonetheless credited with being a major voice in pushing new policy safeguarding female representation in local government throughout South Africa’s provinces. Announced this past May, at least 60% of the Provincial Executive Council (local government bodies that work alongside the president-like Premiers) must be female should the Premier be male. And if the Premier is female, the Council maintains an obligation to be made up of at least 50% women.

Still far from perfect, the future of this fledgling administration remains uncertain. The creation of policy promising greater female representation in local governance and the formation of a gender-balanced cabinet, however, demonstrates a genuine dedication to combatting governmental gender inequality. 

With the United States congress about 240 seats away from achieving gendery parity—a 2019 study by non-profit Catalyst reported that women make up a whopping 23.7% of the U.S—maybe the U.S. could step up its game and follow suit?

Top photo: AFP

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