Senegalese-Born Sibeth Ndiaye Named Government Spokeswoman In France
Her appointment has been called "a strong endorsement of diversity" by President Macron, but some are skeptical.
In a series of cabinet changes made by France's President Emmanuel Macron ahead of the European Parliament elections, Senegalese-born media advisor Sibeth Ndiaye has been given the prestigious title of government spokeswoman.
Born in Dakar, 39-year-old Ndiaye is the first person of African-descent to hold the position. She became a French citizen in 2016 when working as communications advisor for Macron's presidential campaign, Yahoo News reports. Ndiaye comes from a family of politicians, her mother was president of Senegal's Constitutional Council.
Ndiaye has been dedicated to the president since, reportedly telling a French newspaper that she'd be "perfectly comfortable lying to protect the president," according to BBC Africa. Though she later denied making the statement, incidents such as these have made her a target for criticism in opposition circles.
"France has given me a lot. Today, it's my turn to give something back," she said during a handover ceremony in which she took over the role previously held by Benjamin Griveaux, who resigned last week to run for mayor of Paris.
She also praised her family for helping her and her sisters "break glass ceilings."
"Her nomination is a strong endorsement of diversity in a high-profile job, a promotion and a sign of the president's trust," said Philippe Grangeon, one of Macron's top advisers of Ndiaye's promotion.
Ndiaye is the second Senegalese-born woman to hold a prominent title in the French government. Senegalese-born politician Rama Yade, who held several positions in former right-wing president Nicolas Sarkozy's cabinet.
President Macron, who visited Djibouti, Ethiopia and Kenya on a three-day tour earlier this month, has drawn criticism for France's increasing military presence in West Africa. His true commitment to diversity has come into question before, and again following the appointment of Ndiaye.
Minorities, specifically black women in France continue to face difficulties rising to high political positions, and when they do they are often subject to harassment.
Nonetheless, many online are celebrating Ndiaye's new appointment.