Progress Towards Gender Parity in French Legislative Election

By Representation2020 on June 23, 2017



This past weekend marked significant progress toward gender parity in France. The final round of the French parliamentary elections was held on Sunday, June 18, when voters elected a record number of women to parliamentary seats. Out of the 577 seats, women now fill 223, beating the last election’s record of 115. This is a huge stride toward gender parity, as the French parliament is now 38.7 percent women. According to data from the Inter-Parliamentary Union, the French parliament now ranks 17th in the world for women’s representation in parliaments, an impressive improvement from its previous 64th place finish. 

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Learning from Past Structural Reforms: 45th Anniversary of Title IX

By Anna Scheibmeir on June 23, 2017




“No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any educational program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.”


This Friday, June 23, marks the 45th anniversary of Title IX. This landmark legislation, part of the United States Education Amendments of 1972, set out to ensure equal educational opportunities regardless of gender. This allowed for more women to attend college, earn scholarships, study STEM fields, and pursue advanced degrees. Title IX also became the basis for equality in athletics, which has helped increase the number of women who participate in high school sports by 900 percent. Today, Title IX provides protections against campus sexual harassment and assault – another example of its expansive reach.


The passage of Title IX meant young women in school could finally participate in sports at the same rate as their male counterparts. Without structural intervention, it could have taken decades or longer for women to reach equal participation organically. Today, the underrepresentation of women in elected office requires the same type of structural reform. Telling women to run for office is not enough alone – just as telling women to play more sports was not enough before 1972. The only way to catalyze progress toward gender parity is through innovative rules changes.

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Weekend Reading on Women's Representation June 16, 2017

By Cynthia Richie Terrell on June 16, 2017


Dear all,

All eyes are on France this weekend to see the results from the final round of legislative elections this Sunday - read this article to rekindle your appreciation for the role that quotas play in catapulting more women into elected office. I know everyone feels apprehensive about using that term - but if we truly want to win parity in our lifetimes we need to embrace serious gender targets with enforcement mechanisms and consequences for non-compliance.

At least 245 women candidates topped their legislative races in Sunday night’s first round. If every one of those leading ladies won election next Sunday, France’s lower-house National Assembly would reach a high-water mark for its own gender parity at more than 42 percent – still not proper parity, but a relative giant leap for womankind in this chamber. In 2012, French voters elected 155 female lawmakers to the National Assembly, or nearly 27 percent, already a record. Only 20 years ago, in 1997, women still made up just 10.9 percent of the country’s lower-house lawmakers -- in a country that did not give women the right to vote until 1944.

To be sure, women made up a little more than 42 percent of the 7,877 candidates contesting the 577 seats up for grabs in these legislative elections. But the ratio of women candidates on the ballot is not necessarily a strong indicator of how many will win lawmaker roles. Recall that, in 2002, when a law came into effect penalising parties financially for not presenting a gender-equitable slate of candidates, women represented 39 percent of those standing for the legislature, but ultimately only 12.31 percent of those elected.

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En Marche! and Gender Parity in the French Parliament

By Representation2020 on June 16, 2017



French voters recently led Emmanuel Macron of En Marche! to a landslide victory over far right candidate Marine Le Pen. One unique aspect of Macron’s campaign was his emphasis on gender parity. Following Macron’s win, En Marche! selected a gender balanced slate of candidates to run for parliament - 214 men and 214 women. As 72.4 percent of current French MPs are men, En Marche! had to reach outside the pool of seasoned politicians in order to add more women to its group of candidates. Fifty-two percent of the candidates selected by En Marche! have never run for another office.



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UK Elections Show Impact of Gender Quotas

By Katie Shewfelt on June 15, 2017



Last week, the U.K. election received mass media attention for its partisan outcome, but less so for its unprecedented election of women to Parliament. On Thursday, June 8th, the U.K. made national history by electing 208 women Members of Parliament - the highest number yet. While the new partisan breakdown sparked heated debate and disagreement, the overwhelming appreciation for this achievement crossed party lines. Many also celebrated the election of the first woman Sikh MP, Preet Kaur Gill, and the first Palestinian MP, Layla Moran.


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Weekend Reading on Women's Representation June 9, 2017

By Cynthia Richie Terrell on June 09, 2017


​Hello all,

There were key races on both sides of the Atlantic this week that ground Representation2020's analysis of the structural barriers facing female candidates and the impact of intentional actions to accelerate the race to parity.

Ballotpedia reported on the results of the NJ state legislative primary on Tuesday. While we will not know final outcomes - and how many more women will hold office -  until the general election in November we do know that all of the incumbents who were running won and that:

The primary election on June 6, 2017, featured eight contested primaries: three Democratic races and five Republican races. This was a decrease from 2013, when there were 10 contested primaries: four Democratic races and six Republican races.

A total of four incumbents faced challengers in the 2017 primary elections: two Democrats and two Republicans. Five incumbents did not file for re-election in 2017: two Democrats and three Republicans.

Heading into the general election, Democrats hold a 24-16 majority. Republicans would need to flip five districts in order to take control of the chamber.

At the beginning of 2017, New Jersey was one of 19 states under divided government, with Republicans in control of the governorship and Democrats in control of the legislature. In most statewide elections leading up to the November 2017 elections, however, New Jersey leaned politically to the left.

Women made gains in the parliamentary elections this week in the UK winning 32% of the seats - an increase of 16 seats since 2015 - according to this story from the BBC. Intentional recruitment efforts by the parties are credited with this impressive seat gain. Sam Smethers, whom Susannah Wellford and I met in November in London, was quoted as saying:

The outcome of this election was a surprise to many pollsters, but it has seen more Labour women MPs elected. The Conservative Party has not seen a significant reduction in women MPs despite losing seats.

"But the real story is that progress has stalled. Getting more women in cannot be subject to party political fortunes. As we approach the centenary of women first getting to vote in general elections, we cannot wait for another nine elections to achieve equality.

"We agree with the recommendation of the cross-party Women and Equalities Select Committee that 45% of each party's candidates must be women. The time has come for a legally enforceable target to achieve the radical and sustainable change we need.

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Weekend Reading on Women's Representation June 2, 2017

By Cynthia Richie Terrell on June 02, 2017


Susannah Wellford and Laura Cox Kaplan joined Mika Brzezinski at an event at the Embassy of Germany that was focused on the "importance of authenticity, knowing and owning your value, and tackling self doubt" according to Laura Cox Kaplan - looks like a fabulous event!
Dear all,

A interesting story on CBCNews reports that the Liberals in Canada have appointed women to judicial positions and as candidates in key districts in order to achieve gender parity. Intentional actions like these are gaining momentum in the UK and Canada which is significant not only because they are major allies of the US but also because they share our single winner district/ winner takes all voting system. Building relationships with gender parity advocates in Canada is essential so that we can learn from their successes.

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Weekend Reading on Women's Representation May 25, 2017

By Cynthia Richie Terrell on May 25, 2017


Dear friends and allies,

I will keep this short as we all settle in for a longer-than-usual weekend. I am spending mine with my family in our very rustic cabin in the Pine Barrens in NJ!

The Des Moines Register reports that Kim Reynolds has become Iowa's first female governor - bringing the number of governors who are women back up to 6!

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Weekend Reading on Women's Representation May 19, 2017

By Cynthia Richie Terrell on May 19, 2017


Dear friends,

Nina Agrawal reports in the LA Times about the election of Monica Rodriguez to the Los Angeles City Council - her election doubles the number of women on the council and serves as reminder that women remain under-represented in all of our largest cities.

Many shared the news that Macron, as planned, has appointed a gender balanced cabinet - as this story from the BBC reports:

Sylvie Goulard is defence minister while Olympic fencing champion Laura Flessel is sports minister.

Bruno Le Maire is economy minister, Gérard Collomb is interior minister and François Bayrou is justice minister.

Mr Macron's decision to pluck figures from across the political spectrum has sent the French right into disarray.

Mr Le Maire is a conservative moderate, Mr Collomb is the Socialist mayor of Lyon and Mr Bayrou is a veteran centrist.

Some 170 elected officials from the right were earlier criticised by hundreds of other lawmakers after they signed a statement backing Mr Macron.

One accused Mr Macron of "blowing up" the political landscape.

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Weekend Reading on Women's Representation May 12, 2017

By Cynthia Richie Terrell on May 12, 2017

Hello my friends,
The best news this week for women is that newly elected French president Emmanuel Macron announced that half of his cabinet will be comprised of women and that half of the 400 En Marche legislative candidates are women as well, according to this story on CNN.
The party of French President-elect Emmanuel Macron has unveiled the names of more than 400 candidates for the June legislative elections -- and half of them are women...On Thursday, En Marche! secretary general Richard Ferrand announced that 214 men and 214 women had been selected to run for the party -- and added that 52% of the candidates had never held electoral office. The announcement appears to fulfill the party's pledge in January that at least half its candidates would come from outside the political establishment and that half would be women. En Marche! has said it will field a candidate in all 577 seats, so more are expected to be announced in coming weeks.Ferrand said the party had 19,000 applicants, 71% of whom were men and 29% were women.France ranks first in the world, along with Bulgaria and Nicaragua, for the highest proportion of women in ministerial positions, at more than 52%, UN Women data shows. But its female representation in Parliament is dramatically lower, at just 25.8%, ranking 63rd in the world. Winning the most seats in Parliament will be no mean feat for En Marche!, which is less than a year old and is scrambling to finalize its list of candidates to contest all 577 seats.

This move by Macron is a stunning and encouraging demonstration of what real leadership on gender parity looks like. Those of us in the United States must challenge our party leaders at every level to make this same, simple, commitment to parity. In fact, it's time for all of us to declare our support for parity!

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