Martine Aubry and François Hollande, by Martine Aubry on Flickr under Creative Commons 2.0
France’s newly-elected President François Hollande committed to having more women in government, but will he name a woman to the post of prime minister?
The question swirls around Martine Aubry, 61, a politician most linked to the popular 35-hour workweek law, known as the “Loi Aubry.” Her name is also closely associated with the universal health care coverage law.
Aubry competed with Hollande for the nomination of the Socialist Party and has been the party’s first secretary since November 2008. After joining the Socialist Party in 1974, Aubry was appointed labor minister by Prime Minister Edith Cresson in 1991. Six years later in 1997, she became minister of social affairs in the government of Lionel Jospin.
Aubry has been mayor of Lille (Nord) since March 2001.
Another strong contender is Manuel Valls, a socialist deputy since 2002 who also sought the party’s nomination.
During the presidential campaign, Hollande was considered as the strongest proponent of women’s rights according to a survey conducted in February by the Paris-based polling group CSA and the women’s magazine Terra Femina with 15 percent of respondents’ vote.
Now he is elected, many French parents are likely to watch Hollande for signs that he will follow through on his stated support for extending paid parental leave to 18 days from 11.
For background on Hollande’s position on policies affecting women in particular, see, French Women Wield Little Influence in Election
Hollande’s socialist predecessor François Mitterand, president from 1981 through 1995. was the first president of the Fifth Republic to create a ministry dedicated to women’s rights. A woman, Yvette Roudy, ran the office for five years. One year after Mitterand’s election, in 1982, the international day of women on March 8 acquired a formal status in France.
Mitterand was also the first president to appoint a woman, Edith Cresson, as prime minister in May 1991. She served for less than a year and left office in April 1992, making her the country’s briefest prime minister.
Hollande has promised to establish his own ministry of women’s rights to tackle the issue of inequalities between men and women in all aspects of society.
President Nicolas Sarkozy, who will be leaving office in a few days after losing to Hollande on Sunday, broke a taboo by becoming the first divorced elected president in 2007.
Hollande is now the country’s first non-married president. His close companion of several years, however, is Valerie Treirweiler, 47, a political journalist with the well-known weekly Paris Match.
A few years ago, Hollande separated from Ségolène Royal, the 2007 socialist candidate with whom he has four children.