Rose Christiane Ossouka Raponda will become Gabon’s first female Prime Minister after being appointed by the country’s President, Ali Bongo Ondimba.
The decision will promote Ms Ossouka Raponda from her current position as Defence Minister, while simultaneously putting an end to Julien Nkoghe Bekale’s 18 month run as PM.
The ensuing economic aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic has been highlighted as a major factor in the decision. With one government source, as reported by La Libreville, putting forward that they “needed someone solid, experienced and very knowledgeable about economic and social issues.”
Described by the Presidency’s spokesperson, Jessye Ella Ekogha, as “an economist armed to face the challenges that await Gabon”, Ms Ossouka Raponda has been endorsed as the ideal candidate to handle the current economic stall that faces the West African nation.
Furthermore, the appointment of a female PM has affirmed Gabon’s place as one of Africa’s more progressive nations in relation to gender equality.
Yet, while a female head of government is a new experience for the Gabonese population, the figure appointed is not unknown to the country’s political landscape, having previously served as the national Budget Minister and mayor of the capital city, Libreville.
Moreover, Ms Ossouka Raponda was placed in her previous role as Defence Minister after a failed coup against President Bongo, who was then recovering in Morocco after recently suffering a stroke.
Despite this positive step for gender equality in Gabon’s positions of power, Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila of Namibia is the continent’s only other female Prime Minister.
Evidently, there is still much to be done in the battle against inequalities in Gabon and the rest of Africa, whether in political representation, employment, or wider society.
Yet, with powerful figures such as Ms Ossouka Raponda being presented with large platforms to set future examples, a step in the right direction has been taken. Mr Bongo’s decision was announced in a state broadcast, which can be watched here.