Women get half the jobs in Sarkozy's new government

18th May 2007, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, May 18, 2007 (AFP) - France's new President Nicolas Sarkozy on Friday named a 15-member government that includes almost as many women ministers as men, charged with carrying out a programme of tough reforms.

PARIS, May 18, 2007 (AFP) - France's new President Nicolas Sarkozy on Friday named a 15-member government that includes almost as many women ministers as men, charged with carrying out a programme of tough reforms.

France joins a small club of countries - along with Chile, Finland, Spain and Sweden -- that have sought to end male domination of politics by embracing gender parity in government. Here are thumbnail portraits of the seven women:

Michele Alliot-Marie - interior minister

A lawyer by training and loyal follower of former president Jacques Chirac, the 60-year-old is known familiarly in France as "MAM". The first woman to chair Chirac's right-wing RPR party, the ancestor of the ruling UMP, she was also the first woman to be named defence minister, a post she has held since 2002.

Long seen as a potential rival for the presidential nomination, Alliot-Marie swung in behind Sarkozy's campaign at the last moment after winning guarantees that he would open up his government to moderate right-wingers.

Rachida Dati - justice minister

Dati, 41, became a national figure as Sarkozy's official spokeswoman during the election campaign. One of 12 children of north African immigrants, she qualified as a magistrate and worked as an accountant before becoming Sarkozy's advisor on delinquency in 2002.

Dati, who has strongly supported Sarkozy's ideas on affirmative action to help minorities, would be the first politician of North African origin to hold a senior French government post.

Christine Lagarde - agriculture minister

Once listed as one of the world's most powerful women by Forbes magazine, the 51-year-old Lagarde is a high-flying corporate lawyer who was the first woman to head the executive committee of the major US law firm Baker and McKenzie.

She joined the outgoing French government in 2005, serving as international trade minister. An employment and antitrust specialist, Lagarde is also a former competition-level synchronized swimmer.

Valerie Pecresse - higher education minister

A spokeswoman for Sarkozy's UMP party. The 39-year-old entered politics in 1998 as an advisor to Chirac. She was France's youngest member of parliament when first elected in 2002, and has since divided her attention between thorny issues such as bioethics, and work on the family and the rights of juvenile offenders.

Christine Albanel - culture minister

Currently director of the chateau of Versailles, the 51-year-old Albanel was for many years a close advisor and speech-writer for Jacques Chirac. She is a former senior member of the foundation for the memory of the Holocaust, and is a published playwright.

Roselyne Bachelot - health, youth and sports minister

A staunch feminist, Bachelot, 60, is a former environment minister and was Chirac's spokeswoman in the 2002 presidential campaign. Known for her outspoken views, Bachelot was the only right-wing deputy in the French parliament to back a 1999 law introducing same-sex unions.

Christine Boutin - social cohesion

Boutin, 63, is a member of parliament best known for her opposition to same-sex unions. A fervent Catholic, she chairs a French pro-life group and is an active anti-poverty campaigner. She ran for the presidency in 2002, winning just over one percent of the vote, before rallying Chirac's UMP party.


Copyright AFP

SUbject: French news

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