Christine Lagarde, French Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and Ursula Von Der Leyen, Germany’s Foreign Minister are set to be the first two women to clinch top jobs in the European Union.
IMF Managing Director was put forward for the presidency of the European Central Bank while Ursula Von Der Leyen emerged as nominee for president of the European Commission. The European Central Bank and the European Commission are among the top institution in the EU, which have been dominated by males for more than sixty years.
Once it is formally confirmed through a sign off by the Eurozone Group, Christine will move to Frankfurt to take over from Mario Draghi as the first female president of the European Central Bank. For the sixty years old Von der Leyen, a gynaecologist and a mother of seven, she will formally become the first female head of the EU’s executive branch if she wins the support of a majority in the Europen Parliament.
The outgoing President of the European Council Donald Tusk termed the appointment which followed a tense series of negotiations as a perfect gender balance.
“We have chosen two women and two men for the four key positions, a perfect gender balance. I am really happy about it after all Europe is a woman, I think that it was worth waiting for such an outcome,” he said.
German chancellor, Angela Merkel noted it was the first time in 52 years that a German national would be heading the commission
“For me, it is also a good sign that a woman will have this office for the first time,” he said.
Von der Leyen only came to politics in her early 40s but has regularly emerged in opinion polls as one of Germany’s most popular politicians. She introduced improved maternity and paternity benefits as Germany’s family affairs minister and pushed for boardroom gender quotas.
As German’s Foreign Minister, she has been working her arse off to increase funding for the country’s armed forces in her most recent government role but has received her fair share of criticism over controversial awarding of contracts in her reign.