In contrast to Trump, another world leader made half his cabinet women.

Emmanuel Macron, the newly elected president of France, just finished appointing his cabinet members.

Photo by Axel Schmidt/Getty Images.

In what many around the globe considered a win for tolerance and fair-mindedness, Macron pulled off a resounding victory over far-right, nationalist candidate Marine Le Pen in the May 2017 election.


Now, the new president's cabinet picks are giving the French people a clearer idea of where his priorities lie as their leader.

Macron's cabinet is diverse in a number of ways, including when it comes to gender.

Marcon's cabinet. Photo by Denis Allard/Sipa USA (Sipa via AP Images).

Widely considered a centrist in France, the president chose leaders from across the political spectrum to run various departments. He also appointed 11 women — half of his cabinet — to fill top official roles, including Mounir Mahjoubi, a Muslim with Moroccan heritage, who is now in charge of digitalization, and Agnés Buzyn, a Jewish physician and daughter of a Holocaust survivor, as the country's newest health minister.

Agnés Buzyn, France's new health minister. Photo by Stephane De Sakutin/AFP/Getty Images.

The gender split in Macron's cabinet marks yet another effort by a world leader to ensure women are getting a seat at the table when it counts. Two years ago, when a reporter asked why it was so important for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to include several women in his cabinet, the Canadian leader made waves online by quipping simply, "because it's 2015."

Not every newly elected leader has taken steps to ensure women have equal representation when it comes to politics, however.

Macron's diverse cabinet sits in stark contrast to Donald Trump's.

“Donald Trump is rolling back the clock on diversity in the cabinet,” Paul Light, a professor at New York University’s Wagner Graduate School of Public Service, told The New York Times in March 2017.

The professor's assessment isn't hyperbolic; it's been decades since we've seen a cabinet with less diversity than Trump's.  

Photo by Chris Kleponis-Pool/Getty Images.

The president's millionaire and billionaire appointees don't just collectively create the wealthiest cabinet the U.S. has ever seen; they're also far more white and male than any other cabinet since Ronald Reagan's. The few women and racial minorities who are in positions in Trump's administration are mostly in the lowest ranking ones too.

For a political leader, selecting a diverse cabinet goes beyond generating favorable headlines — it promotes good governance that better reflects the people.

It's something Trump may soon learn the hard way.

Although the president's cabinet selections have been a disappointment for gender equality, Trump may have inadvertently sparked a new era for women in U.S. politics. After the 2016 election, there's been a surge in women interested in running for office across the country.

"We saw an immediate uptick in interest in our work, and it has persisted through today," Andrea Dew Steele, the president and founder of Emerge America, told NPR in February 2017. Her group helps train Democratic women running for office. "It's unlike anything we've ever seen."

Take a hint from Macron, Trump — when a government runs more like a service to all its people and less like an old boys' club, everyone wins.

More

Disney has come under fire for problematic portrayals of non-white and non-western cultures in many of its older movies. They aren't the only one, of course, but since their movies are an iconic part of most American kids' childhoods, Disney's messaging holds a lot of power.

Fortunately, that power can be used for good, and Disney can serve as an example to other companies if they learn from their mistakes, account for their misdeeds, and do the right thing going forward. Without getting too many hopes up, it appears that the entertainment giant may have actually done just that with the new Frozen II film.

According to NOW Toronto, the producers of Frozen II have entered into a contract with the Sámi people—the Indigenous people of the Scandinavian regions—to ensure that they portray the culture with respect.

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Though there was not a direct portrayal of the Sámi in the first Frozen movie, the choral chant that opens the film was inspired by an ancient Sámi vocal tradition. In addition, the clothing worn by Kristoff closely resembled what a Sámi reindeer herder would wear. The inclusion of these elements of Sámi culture with no context or acknowledgement sparked conversations about cultural appropriation and erasure on social media.

Frozen II features Indigenous culture much more directly, and even addressed the issue of Indigenous erasure. Filmmakers Jennifer Lee and Chris Buck, along with producer Peter Del Vecho, consulted with experts on how to do that respectfully—the experts, of course, being the Sámi people themselves.

Sámi leaders met with Disney producer Peter Del Vecho in September 2019.Sámediggi Sametinget/Flickr

The Sámi parliaments of Norway, Sweden and Finland, and the non-governmental Saami Council reached out to the filmmakers when they found out their culture would be highlighted in the film. They formed a Sámi expert advisory group, called Verddet, to assist filmmakers in with how to accurately and respectfully portray Sámi culture, history, and society.

In a contract signed by Walt Disney Animation Studios and Sámi leaders, the Sámi stated their position that "their collective and individual culture, including aesthetic elements, music, language, stories, histories, and other traditional cultural expressions are property that belong to the Sámi," and "that to adequately respect the rights that the Sámi have to and in their culture, it is necessary to ensure sensitivity, allow for free, prior, and informed consent, and ensure that adequate benefit sharing is employed."

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Disney agreed to work with the advisory group, to produce a version of Frozen II in one Sámi language, as well as to "pursue cross-learning opportunities" and "arrange for contributions back to the Sámi society."

Anne Lájla Utsi, managing director at the International Sámi Film Institute, was part of the Verddet advisory group. She told NOW, "This is a good example of how a big, international company like Disney acknowledges the fact that we own our own culture and stories. It hasn't happened before."

"Disney's team really wanted to make it right," said Utsi. "They didn't want to make any mistakes or hurt anybody. We felt that they took it seriously. And the film shows that. We in Verddet are truly proud of this collaboration."

Sounds like you've done well this time, Disney. Let's hope such cultural sensitivity and collaboration continues, and that other filmmakers and production companies will follow suit.

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