The city of Paris has been given an unusual punishment: a fine of about 90,000 euros, about 110,000 dollars, for appointing too many women to senior positions and violating France’s gender equality laws.
The offense was committed back in 2018, when the mayor of Paris Ann Hidalgo appointed 11 women and five men to positions on her senior staff at a time when governments around the world were struggling to increase female representation in governments.
But when 69% of the positions were given to women and only 31% to men, Paris violated national government laws that were meant to maintain equality, according to which at least 40% of all new appointments should be given to each of the genders.
An amendment was introduced into the law in 2019 that allows for the waiver of the rate specified in the law as long as the new and new positions do not create gender inequality. This seems to be the case in Paris, where women fill slightly less than half of senior municipal positions. But the first round of appointments was made before the amendment, which means the Paris municipality has broken the law.
Hidalgo said at a city council meeting on Tuesday that the appointments had helped give women a stronger voice in the French government and added, with a smile, that she was happy to pay the fine.
“In Paris, we are doing everything to make this a success, and I am very proud of a great team of women and men who together have led this struggle for equality,” Hidalgo said.
Leadership treated Corona better
Many countries have tried to encourage policies of more active participation of women in recent years. Some researchers say this has had benefits, with in some cases leadership performing better than their male counterparts in treating the corona plague, at least in its early stages.
Economists Uma Kambamphetti of the University of Reading and Sophia Gricipati of the University of Liverpool surveyed 194 countries and found that by mid-May, leaders had imposed closures earlier than their male counterparts and countries suffered only about half of Corona-related deaths on average, compared to men-led countries.
At the same time, it may be in part because women tend to lead more left-wing governments that were willing to take more decisive state action to slow the spread of the virus.
Hidalgo, who was elected to a second term as mayor earlier this year, is one of the prominent members of the Socialist Party, which suffered a defeat in the last general election in France. But it, too, has struggled with political struggles over the spread of the virus in Europe, even when in some periods Paris was subject to stricter restrictions than in the rest of France.
The fine was an opportunity to build more on policy success. Hidalgo said she intends to file the check on the fine to the public service office itself, accompanied by senior city management officials. “There will be many of us,” she said.
Emily de Monschellen, France’s public services minister, described the fine on Twitter as ridiculous. “I want them to use the tax money that Paris will pay for 2018 to fund concrete actions to promote women in the public service,” she said. “I invite you to the office to suggest such actions!”