A new government, and a new image. The Hollande era got underway in Paris when the French president showed off the women in his government. He appeared in a photocall with them, alongside Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault.
Women have taken exactly half the 34 ministerial posts, although men have retained the top jobs.
A previous socialist government introduced a gender parity law but it has rarely been enforced.
Two women on the streets of Paris said they were delighted: “I am thrilled, really thrilled. To have some female power is really great,” said one.
“There are more women on earth than men. For once we find the same quality, the same quantity. Why not?” said another.
But not far away there was some evidence of scepticism.
“Oh mon Dieu!” said one man. “It’s funny, I was discussing it with my wife just now. I was afraid that under the pretext of equality – well it was the question we were asking ourselves – he appointed people who might not be competent in ministerial positions.”
Until now France had been 18th in a European league table of the number of women in government.
President Hollande will try to consolidate his power in parliamentary elections next month.
His government has already announced a reduction in ministerial salaries of 30 percent and a return to a five-day week in primary schools.