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23-YEAR-OLD EMMA THEOFILUS MAKES HISTORY AS SOUTHERN AFRICA’S YOUNGEST MINISTER

It’s always a good day when great steps are made towards achieving gender equality. This was the case last week, when 23-year-old Emma Theofilus was appointed Deputy Information and Technology Minister by President Hage Geingob. It’s a double achievement, because not only is Theofilus the youngest minister (ever) to be appointed in Namibia, but in the whole of Southern Africa.

Before her appointment, the trailblazer was a legal officer in the Ministry of Justice, where she drafted human rights reports and implemented Namibia’s human rights strategy – an excellent background for her new position.

Theofilus has already swung into action, releasing a statement on the Coronavirus pandemic and encouraging Nambians to observe best practices. In the video published online, the minister says, “Let us stay at home and practise social distancing. […] Do not attend crowded places and social gatherings and do not travel unnecessarily.”

In an interview reported in The Namibian, addressing criticism about her age and competence, she attacks the issue head-on. “I do not think I am special, but I do not think I am inexperienced, and I do not think being young or female has anything to do with my appointment. Anything I set myself to and any environment I want to work into, I can do it; so the issue of inexperience does not hold any water.”

Further, in a separate interview, Theofilus says, “I am excited. I am told I will be used as a benchmark for young people. I take on the challenge like I have taken other leadership roles. It is uncharted territory and political space but I am ready to take on the challenge.”

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