Cécile Kyenge

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Cécile Kashetu Kyenge
Kashetu kyeng cecile.jpg
Kyenge in 2013
Minister of Integration
In office
28 April 2013 – 22 February 2014
President Giorgio Napolitano
Prime Minister Enrico Letta
Preceded by Andrea Riccardi
Succeeded by Ministry abolished
Member of the Chamber of Deputies
In office
26 February 2013 – 18 February 2014
Constituency Emilia-Romagna
Personal details
Born (1964-08-28) 28 August 1964 (age 49)
Kambove, Congo
Political party Democratic Party
Spouse(s) Domenico Grispino (1994-present)
Children Giulia
Maisha
Alma mater Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore
Profession Ophthalmologist
Religion Roman Catholicism

Cécile Kashetu Kyenge (IPA: [seˈsil ˈkjɛŋɡe]; born Kashetu Kyenge on 28 August 1964 in Kambove, Democratic Republic of the Congo) is a Congolese-Italian politician and ophthalmologist. She was the Minister for Integration in the former Italian government.

After moving to Italy in 1983, she became a qualified ophthalmologist in Modena, Emilia-Romagna. She has founded an intercultural Association (DAWA) to promote mutual awareness, integration and cooperation between Italy and Africa, particularly in her country of birth, the Democratic Republic of Congo. She is also the spokesperson of the association "March First", which works to promote the rights of migrants in Italy.

In February 2013 she was elected member of the Chamber of Deputies for the Democratic Party in Emilia-Romagna. Two months later she was appointed Minister for Integration in the grand coalition government formed by Enrico Letta, becoming Italy's first black cabinet minister.[1] She supports the introduction of a Jus soli law to grant citizenship to children of immigrants born on Italian soil.

Biography[edit]

Kyenge was born in Kambove (Haut-Katanga District) in the Democratic Republic of Congo on 28 August 1964. She arrived in Italy with a student visa in 1983.[2] She has been married since 1994 with an Italian engineer, Domenico Grisino, and has two daughters named Giulia and Maisha.[3] She lives in Castelfranco Emilia.[4] She has a degree in medicine and surgery from the Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore in Rome.[5][not in citation given] She is a specialist in ophthalmology at the University of Modena and Reggio Emilia.

In 2002 she founded the Association for Intercultural DAWA ("dawa" is a Kiswahili word meaning "medicine"), with the aim of promoting mutual understanding of different cultures and develop processes of awareness, integration and cooperation between Italy and Africa, particularly in the Democratic Republic of Congo where Kyenge focuses mostly her efforts. Since September 2010 she has been the national spokesperson of the Italian association "March First" that works to promote the rights of migrants. She collaborates with various organizations and associations in national campaigns on the rights of citizenship. She collaborates with many Italian magazines, including Combonifem and Corriere Immigrazione, an online newspaper and a weekly journal on the culture of Italy of the present and future.

Political activity[edit]

In 2004 she was elected in a district of the town of Modena for the Democrats of the Left and later became the provincial head of the Forum of International Cooperation and Immigration.

On 7 June 2009 she was elected provincial councilor in Modena for the Democratic Party (PD) and joined the committee Welfare and social policies. She is also responsible for immigration policies in Emilia-Romagna for the Democratic Party.

On 25 February 2013 she was elected member of the Chamber of Deputies for the PD in Emilia-Romagna.
Immediately after her election to the Italian Parliament, with the support of other signatories (Pier Luigi Bersani, Khalid Chaouki and Roberto Speranza), she began to promote a plan for a law granting citizenship to children of immigrants born on Italian soil (a so-called Ius soli law).

In April 2013 she was appointed Minister for Integration in the grand coalition government formed by Enrico Letta, becoming Italy's first black cabinet minister.[1] Her ministerial nomination was repudiated in some circles on cultural and/or racial grounds, being met by racist insults from individual politicians belonging to the Northern League such as Roberto Calderoli, VP of the Italian Senate, who called her an orangutan,[6] in addition to racist campaigns orchestrated by the New Force party and other far-right groups.[7][8][9] Her treatment as Italy's first black minister has been described by The Economist as "shameful" with "limited condemnation".[10]

References[edit]

External links[edit]