After Sunday’s legislative elections, La République en Marche (LREM), the full name of French President Emmanuel Marcon’s En Marche! party will be sending 308 representatives (MP’s) to the 577-seat Assemblée Nationale, the equivalent of the US House of Representatives.
Of those 308 MP’s, 47% are women. (Hold your applause, because it gets even better.)
In total, 223 women have been elected to French parliament, bringing the total to 224. That’s nearly 39%, up from 26.8% after the 2012 elections—a huge step toward gender parité. In 2007, 18.5% of seats were held by women, and in 2002, only 12.3%. Comparing the diversity of parliaments around the world, French parliament just moved from 64th to 17th place. (Now you may applaud.)
This female MP uprising must be at least partially credited to Macron’s party for its commitment to field female candidates. Macron has been a proponent of gender parité on the campaign trail, promising that half of cabinet positions would be filled by women (and following through on that promise), in addition to voicing support for initiatives that would benefit women. He went a step further once he was elected president, promising that half of his party’s candidates for French parliament would be women. Macron proposed legislative candidates in all but 56 constituencies, which had been determined to already possess candidates that would support Macron’s platform, and half of his proposed candidates were indeed women. And for all those who said it would harm his chances of parliamentary majority, what do you know! 47% of them were elected.
Misogyny has long been a part of the French government, even at the upper echelons. Last year, deputy speaker of the French Assembly Denis Baupin was forced to resign after 13 female MP’s outed him as a serial harasser. Female MP’s have routinely been victims of verbal sexual harassment by their colleagues, interruptions during speeches “C’est qui cette nana?” (“Who is this chick?”), and gender-based criticisms of their abilities. Perhaps most famously in 2012, Cécile Duflot was hissed at by her male colleagues while speaking in parliament, all because she was wearing a dress. With more women in the Assemblée than ever before, there’s reason to hope that kind of sexist behavior will decrease, not be encouraged, and eventually cease to happen at all.
Featured image: Stock Photos from Frederic Legrand – COMEO/Shutterstock