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.
The equitable gender distribution of candidates is the result of a conscious effort by Macron to recruit female applicants for parliament during his campaign. Initially, only 15% of applicants were women, leading to a social media plea from Macron: “It’s a failure that makes me sad because we’re on track to be like the others, we’re on track to achieve the same result as we have today in the National Assembly.”
Although En Marche! is still a new political party, founded by Macron in June 2016, it is rapidly growing and provides a hopeful future for women’s representation in France. After the first round of parliamentary elections, the party is expected to gain a majority of the seats, but the results will speak for themselves after the final round of the election this Sunday, June 18. In the ideal scenario, En Marche! will set France on a new path towards gender parity and will stand as an example of gender quotas used successfully.
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