Who is Najla Bouden, Tunisia’s 1st female prime minister; Tunisian govt appoints record number of women

Tunisia’s President Saied approves the new Tunisian government that has been constituted by the newly-appointed PM Najla Bouden Romdhane. The new Tunisian govt has appointed a record number of women.

Created On: Oct 13, 2021 13:11 IST
Tunisia PM Najla Bouden Romdhane, Source: Reuters
Tunisia PM Najla Bouden Romdhane, Source: Reuters

Tunisia’s President Kais Saied on October 11, 2021, approved a new government by decree that has been constituted by the newly-appointed Prime Minister Najla Bouden Romdhane. 63-years-old Bouden will be Tunisia’s first female prime minister. The development came 11 weeks after Saied sacked the last serving prime minister Hichem Mechichi, suspended parliament, and granted himself judicial powers on July 25 which the opponents termed as a coup while many Tunisians praised the move. Tunisia faces acute economic and political crises.

Tunisia’s PM Bouden’s government includes record number of women

The North African nation’s newly-appointed Prime Minister Najla Bouden Romdhane was named by Saied on September 29, 2021. The new cabinet of PM Bouden comprises 24 ministers and a secretary of state of which 10 (a third of them) are women, including Prime Minister Bouden. Many feminist groups in the country have praised the nomination of Bouden as a step forward for women in Tunisia as well as the Arab world while the Islamist-inspired Ennahda party has labelled Bouden’s nomination by presidential decree as unconstitutional. The Ennahda party has dominated the post-revolution politics of Tunisia.

Tunisia’s PM Bouden’s government includes Leila Jaffel, new at the Ministry of Justice, and Sihem Boughdiri Nemseya, reappointed as finance minister. Other portfolios such as finance ministry will be held by Samir Saied, education ministry by Fethi Selouati, interior ministry by Taoufik Charfeddine, foreign ministry by Othman Jerandi.

What are the challenges for the newly appointed Tunisian government under PM Najla Bouden?

Najla Bouden’s appointment as the Prime Minister of Tunisia comes at a critical moment. She faces a lot of challenges as the Tunisia government is dealing with a severe economic and debt crisis, rising inflation, widespread unemployment, coronavirus pandemic, and the stalled laws to grant women equal inheritance rights. As per the World Economic Forum’s Gender Equality Index in 2020, Tunisia’s rank has dropped from 90th to 124th between 2006 and 2020.

Bouden during her speech at the swearing-in ceremony said that the fight against corruption will be the key aim of the new Tunisian government and also pledged to raise the living standards of Tunisians. “Fixing public finances and implementing economic reforms” is a priority of the new government, she stated.

Who is Najla Bouden?

Najla Bouden is a Tunisian geologist and university professor. Bouden has been appointed as the Prime Minister of Tunisia by President Kais Saied. She has become the first women Prime Minister of Tunisia as well as the Arab world. She will be the 4th Head of Government since President Saied took office in 2019.

Born in 1958 in Tunisia’s Kairouan province, 63-years-old Bouden is a geology professor at the National Engineering School in Tunis. Prior to her appointment as the PM, Bouden was currently serving at the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research working at implementing a $70 million programme to improve employment opportunities for college graduates.

Bouden has also served as director-general in charge of quality at the High Education Ministry since 2011. She has also been the Head of the Purpose Action Unit in the Education Ministry.

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