Long before his victory, the new French president Emmanuel Macron had publicly spoken out about misogyny and the clear lack of female representation in French politics. This week, he has followed through on his promise to address gender inequality.
On Tuesday, he unveiled a cabinet with 11 of the 22 positions now held by women.
Back in January, Macron said that women made up less than 30% of those elected to the National Assembly. But women, he added, currently represent 53% of the electoral body.
“Unlike other political parties, we [La Republique en Marche] plan to respect gender parity,” he explained.
On the cabinet is five-time Olympic medal winner Laura Flessel as Minister of Sports, publisher Francoise Nyssen as Minister of Culture, and politician Sylvie Goulard as Minister of Defense.
His appointments follow a list of candidates he submitted last week for France’s upcoming parliamentary elections in which over half of the 400 names were women.
At this rate, Macron is on track to bump up France’s current ranking as the world’s 64th most gender-balanced parliament.
Meanwhile, other countries in the developed world still lag behind.
Today, women make up about 19% of the United States House and Senate. That’s lower than Somalia at 24% and Argentina at 39%, according to a report released in March by the Inter-Parliamentary Union and United Nations Women.
The US ranks 33rd out of the 49 high-income countries that have women in the national legislature.
At the top of the list is Rwanda, where two-thirds of the seats parliament are occupied by women — a higher percentage than in any other country.
Overall, politics do not reflect a world in which half of humanity is female. And to ensure a future that is more gender-balanced, it’s important young girls see women in politics, and have role models to base their hopes, goals, and aspirations off of.
Macron’s appointments drew comparisons to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s first days in office in November 2015 when he appointed 15 women to his 30-person cabinet.
When asked why having a cabinet consist of equal parts both men and women was so important to him, Trudeau responded: “Because it’s 2015.”
To leaders like Macron and Trudeau, we have one thing to say: lead the way.
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