By Claire Zillman
May 18, 2017

France’s new president Emmanuel Macron took a page out of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s playbook yesterday by fulfilling his campaign pledge to appoint a cabinet that is gender-balanced. Of the 22 new ministers, 11 are women.

Among the new appointees, many of whom are political newcomers, are Olympic fencing champion Laura Flessel, who was named sports minister, and Sylvie Goulard, a French politician who will be defense minister.

Canada’s Trudeau famously appointed a 50% female cabinet after being elected the nation’s 23rd—and second youngest—prime minister, stating he wanted a ministerial team “that looks like Canada” because “it’s 2015.” Likewise, Hillary Clinton had vowed to appoint a cabinet with gender parity during her 2016 bid for the U.S. presidency, stating in April 2016: “I am going to have a cabinet that looks like America, and 50% of America is women.”

President Donald Trump, notably, never made such a promise. Of his 23 secretaries who required Senate confirmation, four are women.

Macron, meanwhile, did not deliver on all his campaign pledges. The self-proclaimed feminist who often touted his campaign staff’s gender balance, declared in March that he “wished” to appoint a woman as prime minister. Rather than fulfilling that aim, he chose Edouard Philippe, who—in addition to being a (male) center-right moderate and mayor of the Normandy port town of Le Havre—is the author of several political novels whose narrator possesses a misogynistic streak. Quartz has a run-down of a few cringe-worthy passages, including one in which the narrator, a top political aide, ogles at the breasts of a press secretary, whom he describes as a “trophy.”

Thankfully, early signs indicate the reality of Macron’s government won’t reflect Philippe’s works of fiction.



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