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Parity Law in France Requires Gender Equality in Elections

Lawmakers in France passed a bill last year that will require an equal number of women and men candidates on nearly all election ballots. The new measure goes further than any other in the world to ensure equal representation of men and women in politics, and is a surprising leap forward, considering French women only earned the right to vote in 1944. Currently, women comprise 7 percent of France’s mayors and almost 9 percent of national legislators. These figures are just slightly below US numbersÑ13 percent of US senators are womenÑbut France is far behind other European countries such as Sweden, in which 45 percent of legislators are women.

The parity law has drawn support from French citizens. Sixty-three percent of people polled believe the law will provide a better choice of candidates and will result in better governance. Sixty-five percent voiced a desire for a woman mayor in their town. Eighty percent believe a woman in office would result in improved education, social services and health programs and 60 percent thought women political leaders would bring about improvements in the economy, transportation systems and sports.

Sources:

New York Times Ð February 4, 2001

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