This summer, there’s a bit of good news in the otherwise pretty dismal land of politics: one of the world’s most influential cities is about to have its first female leader. This year’s mayoral race in Paris is an all-female contest so far, which means that the city is poised to have its first female leader in its 2,000 year history. About time, right?
In 2008, there were two female candidates for the position, which is more than many other major cities can say for themselves. However, this year marks the first time that the race has been dominated by women. Despite a 2000 French law requiring an equal number of male and female candidates on most ballots, only 14 percent of elected French mayoral candidates are women.
France’s two largest political parties have officially chosen their candidates. Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet will represent the conservative Union pour un Movement Populaire (UMP), and Anne Hidalgo has been chosen by the Parti Socialiste (PS). Also joining the race will be Marielle de Sarnez of MoDem, the centrist party, and Cecile DuFlot of the Green Party.
As exciting as this race is, French experts warn that it’s not time to throw a gender equality party just yet. Julia Mouzon, founder of Femmes et Pouvoir (Women and Power) told Women’s eNews that “what is happening in Paris is the tree that hides the forest… the problem for women in French politics is not to be elected but to be designated by their party. They somehow don’t trust women to give them the legitimacy to run a race on their behalf.”
French political scientist Sandrine Leveque made a similar point. “A machos climate exists in the newsrooms where the skills of female candidates are often questioned in spite of their qualifications,” she said. “Such questions are never asked when we have a male candidate… Will she be up to the job? Will she fit the job? Will she survive?”
Click through the gallery to learn a bit more about these trailblazing female candidates.