France gets first woman economy minister

19th June 2007, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, June 19, 2007 (AFP) - A former lawyer and trade minister, Christine Lagarde on Tuesday became the first woman to head France's economy and finance ministry, confirming her status as one of the world's most powerful women.

PARIS, June 19, 2007 (AFP) - A former lawyer and trade minister, Christine Lagarde on Tuesday became the first woman to head France's economy and finance ministry, confirming her status as one of the world's most powerful women.

Lagarde, 51, was appointed by President Nicolas Sarkozy to replace Jean-Louis Borloo who climbed to the number two position in government in a reshuffle following parliamentary elections.

A former champion synchronized swimmer, the silver-haired Lagarde was ranked by Forbes magazine as the 30th most powerful woman in the world in 2006 when as trade minister she was credited for a nearly 10 percent boost in exports.

While women have been named to junior economic portfolios, Lagarde will be the first to head the key ministry in a government that saw women appointed to seven of the 15 ministerial posts.

It was only two years ago that Lagarde was plucked from the world of high-powered corporate law by former prime minister Dominique de Villepin.

The Paris-born lawyer with a degree in English was then at the top of her game as chairman of Baker and McKenzie, one of the world's biggest law firms.

Lagrange had chaired Baker and McKenzie since 1999, the first woman at the helm of the US law firm.

De Villepin convinced her to abandon the Chicago boardroom for politics and she served as trade minister at a time when France was grappling with a string of globalisation issues including calls to cut agricultural tariffs.

Her first months in politics were marred by a blunder when in a radio interview she criticized social charges as being a disincentive to employers, a remark that was seen as overstepping her brief as trade minister.

A labour and antitrust lawyer, Lagarde studied political science before attending law school. She joined Baker and McKenzie in 1981, becoming a full partner six years later.

Lagarde had been named agriculture minister in the government of Prime Minister Francois Fillon that was unveiled last month but the defeat of Alain Juppe in the parliamentary polls led to a reshuffle.


Copyright AFP

Subject: French News

0 Comments To This Article