One of the great failures of the François Mitterrand government was the failure to promote women and non-white candidates. To his credit, Nicholas Sarkozy did a considerably better job than previous governments and promoted a number of women within his team including current IMF chief Christine Lagarde. You can agree or disagree with policy choices, but that was a big step.
The new François Hollande government has appointed women to half of his cabinet, though some have argued that the number is much lower for the top level cabinet positions. Following the parliamentary elections, women now comprise 27% of the parliament, 37% for the socialists. The new parliament includes yet another LePen, the 22 year old niece of the former far right presidential candidate Jean Marie LePen. (Sarkozy’s UMP delivered only 14% in the recent elections.)
It’s certainly progress, but again, this is still well below the 50% target.
The result lifts France from 69th to 34th in the world for the proportion of female MPs, according to the Inter-Parliamentary Union, an international organisation of parliaments. Britain now lies joint 55th.
éjane Sénac, a specialist in gender equality at Sciences-Po and the National Centre for Scientific Research, said there was still no egalité in the French executive. “With 73% of MPs still men, this result has confirmed that parity is a problem that needs to be dealt with. If there had not been the ‘pink wave’ with the Socialists winning so many seats, we wouldn’t even have 27% women,” she said.
Sénac called on Hollande to bar political parties from receiving public funds unless they implemented a policy of equality.
It should be noted that despite the modern women’s movement having origins in the US, the US is sadly ranked number 78, far behind France and the UK for women in government. The House stands at 17% and the Senate 17% for women representatives. We need to do a lot better than this. How can we expect Washington to properly govern all Americans when the numbers are this far off? This needs to become a higher priority for both political parties.