Italian minister among Foreign Policy's Global Thinkers 2013
Magazine praises Kyenge for anti-racism efforts07 January, 17:08
Congo-born Kyenge, Italy's first black cabinet minister, earned a place among the 'Leading Global Thinkers of 2013' for her work to "fight persistent xenophobia in Europe". An ophthalmologist by profession, Kyenge was appointed integration minister under the left-right government of Enrico Letta in April 2013, just two months after being elected Italy's Lower House, as an MP of the Democratic Party (PD). Her nomination was met by racist insults from far-right groups and the Nothern League, whose ex-minister Roberto Calderoli likened her to an orangutan. Kyenge has worked hard to introduce a law recognising the principle of Jus soli, or the right to Italian citizenship for children born of immigrants on Italian soil and she has also been vocal in support of the rights of migrants arriving illegally on Italy's southern shores. She herself arrived in Italy as an illegal immigrant in 1983 before graduating in medicine and surgery in Rome and then qualifying in ophthalmology in Modena. She is married to an Italian engineer and has two children.