For the first time in the city’s 2000 year history, Paris will have a female mayor in 2014! The two most prominent political parties have announced their candidates for the mayoral race, and both parties selected female politicians to represent their parties in this important election. These two women are not only vying for the highly respected position of mayor of Paris, but they are also battling it to for a place in history as the first female mayor of Paris. The significance of this election is not lost on candidate Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet, who recognizes the profound impact that this election will have on women in french politics.
Being the first female mayor of Paris will be a big symbol and a very positive sign for women who wanted to go into politics but who daren’t go into it in the past. Paris is ready for such a change and I’m sure that France could one day elect a woman as president.
In an interview with NBC News, Nathalie explains how the french political scene has historically been a “boys club”. Despite being a strong capable woman, she has been a victim of discrimination and was passed over for positions during her pregnancies. Nathalie’s competition, Anne Hidalgo of the Parti Socialiste, also recognizes the opportunity this election provides for french women.
I’m happy there are a lot of women in this Parisian battle – it’s proof that Paris has evolved as a city. At least, those criticisms we often hear about the credibility or competence of women won’t be an issue
In my eyes, this election is a huge step forward for women in France and a great sign for women in politics worldwide. The french political system is notoriously hostile towards women, so it is important for french women to continually push the limits of what women can accomplish. Last year, Housing Minister Cecile Duflot was heckled and whistled at while she addressed the parliament. (Full story available here). According to a Huffington Post article on the subject, only five of the 40 French towns with populations greater than 100,000 have female mayors, so clearly political representation in France is far from gender equal.
In France, women politicians are often caught in a double-bind, being criticized for acting too feminine or too masculine. Sandrine Leveque, an expert on gender issues at the Sorbonne University in Paris, explains,
When they act too much like women, we say they act too much like women. When they don’t act enough like women, we say that they are not woman enough.
While it seems that french women are still struggling for equal representation in politics, this election is a great step forward and hopefully a sign of progress to come. Having a woman in this powerful position could make the political arena in France more hospitable to women while giving young women in France another strong female example to look up to.
- Meet the ‘killer’ woman who might run France (worldnews.nbcnews.com)
- Who Run the World? Paris Mayoral Race is All-Female (Jezebel.com)
- Historic All Woman Race for Mayor of Paris (Ms. Magazine)