10 men, 10 women: Belgium’s new government is more female than ever
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10 men, 10 women: Belgium’s new government is more female than ever

Credit: Belga

Belgium’s new federal government, led by Prime Minister Alexander De Croo, has ten male and ten female members, making it the first federal government with such a high percentage of women.

On Thursday morning, King Philippe swore in a 20-member gender-equal federal cabinet made up of 14 ministers and five secretaries of state (10 Francophone, 9 Dutch-speaking), plus new premier Alexander De Croo, a native Dutch speaker.

The portfolios have been split up between the seven parties in the so-called Vivaldi coalition: the Flemish and Francophone liberals (Open VLD and MR), socialists (sp.a and PS) and greens (groen and Ecolo) and the Flemish Christian democrats (CD&V).

The 50/50 balance between men and women makes this the first time that so many positions in Belgium’s federal government have gone to women.

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Additionally, with Petra De Sutter as Minister of Public Enterprises and Public Administration and Deputy PM for the Flemish greens, this is the first time the government also includes an openly transgender person.

It was De Croo’s ambition to have a gender balance in the Vivaldi team, according to Het Nieuwsblad. In recent years, he has fought for gender equality both in Belgium and abroad.

Last year, De Croo also wrote a book entitled ‘The Age of Women. Why Feminism also Liberates Men’, in which he made a plea for more women in leadership positions.

However, the core cabinet of the government is still predominantly male, as only two of the eight posts there went to women, specifically Petra De Sutter and former Prime Minister Sophie Wilmès (MR).

Additionally, it remains to be seen who the government will appoint as ‘Corona commissioner’ to coordinate the country’s coronavirus policy, but the name of infectious disease expert Erika Vlieghe has been mentioned as a possible candidate.

Lastly, the chairmanship for the Chamber of Representatives will go to Eliane Tillieux of the Francophone socialist (PS) party, making her the first woman to hold this mandate.

Maïthé Chini
The Brussels Times