Francisca Van Dunem (née Francisca Eugénia da Silva Dias Van Dunem) is an Angolan-Portugese attorney and a politician notably known for being the first person of African-Descent to serve as a cabinet minister in Portugal.
Van Dunem was born on November 5, 1955 in Luanda, Angola. She was one of six children born to Mateus Vieira Van Dunem and Antonia Sardinha da Silva. In 1973, Van Dunem went to Portugal to study law at the University of Lisbon. After a stint, she returned to Angola when the nation had its independence. However, when her brother and sister-in-law were murdered due to political instability, Francisca and her parents, accompanied by an orphaned nephew, finally resolved to settle in Portugal.
Van Dunem finally resumed her studies at the initial University of Lisbon and received her law degree on July 1977. Thereafter, Francisca began her legal career as an expert in Criminal Law at the University of Lisbon from 1977 to 1979. In the 1980s, she was a syndication and survey advisor at Alta Autoridade contra a Corrupção (High Authority Against Corruption). Because of her prowess and knowledge in the field of law, Van Dunem became a public prosecutor in Lisbon, worked in the Attorney General’s Office and was director of the Department of Investigation and Penal Action of Lisbon from 2001 until 2007. In 2007, she was appointed Attorney General for the District of Lisbon.
Francisca Van Dunem served as Minister of Justice in the 21st Portuguese government from 2015 to 2019. On the 4th of December 2021, Van Dunem was nominated as Minister of Internal Administration, overseeing and heading both Ministries of Justice and Internal Administration.
Francisca Van Dunem’s appointment in 2015, though historical and landmark, didn’t attract much public attention. News outlets failed to make it a front-page item.
Van Dunem returned to her birthplace in Angola in 2017. She is married to attorney and university professor Eduardo Paz Ferreira. They both have one son and live in suburban Lisbon.