In 2017, it’s not something we should still need to marvel at, or even notice.
Yet France’s new President Emmanuel Macron’s move to appoint a fifty/fifty gender split across his Cabinet is certainly newsworthy.
Macron’s centrist government aims to bring a wide range of people together (from both the left and right), and 50% of them happen to be female.
Nine of his 18 ministers are women, although some of the more powerful positions have gone to men.
The gender split follows a similar move by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau who announced a gender balanced cabinet in 2015. Asked why he did it, Trudeau famously replied: “Because it’s 2015.”
Macron’s cabinet includes Sylvie Goulard, who will serve as his defence minister. She’s a centrist lawmaker who speaks four languages and is reportedly better known for her work across Europe than in France.
“La confrontation gauche-droite n’a pas été bonne pour le pays” RTL https://t.co/Fh1CrbS3Tj
— Sylvie Goulard (@GoulardSylvie) May 12, 2017
Laura Flessel, an Olympic fencing champion (pictured above), has been appointed sports minister.
— Tony ESTANGUET (@TonyESTANGUET) May 17, 2017
Macron’s also announced a gender-balanced list of 428 candidates for parliamentary elections next month.
A former investment banker, Macron’s just 39 years old and set up his party just over a year ago. He’s previously said his wife Brigitte Trogneux will have a “role and a place” in his government. The pair’s relationship continues to be a talking point: Macron fell in love with Trogneux when he was 15. She was 39 at the time, and his school teacher.
Macron’s gender-balanced Cabinet sends a powerful message, especially at a time when most governments – including our own – have serious work to do on the representation of women in parliament.
Following the Australia Federal election last year, female representation in the Coalition fell to its lowest level since the early 1990s, with just 13 women sitting on government benches in the House of Reps. Less than a quarter of Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s full ministry are female.