When French President Nicolas Sarkozy personally shepherded three non-white women of immigrant background into his government in May 2007, it was a bold move; no government before, left or right, had been as inclusive. (To appreciate just how groundbreaking it was, read my previous post.) Not to mention that Fadela Amara is a Socialist.
In a government bureaucracy as status conscious as France’s, it was all the bolder because all three come from truly modest backgrounds. Fadela Amara, the long-time fighter for women’s rights in the impoverished suburbs, grew up as one of 11 brothers and sisters in what she describes as a shanty-town. Rachida Dati, the tenacious networker who shone as spokeswoman for Sarkozy’s 2006 presidential campaign, was one of 12 children of a Moroccan bricklayer. Rama Yade, just 30 when she was appointed, was the daughter of two influential Senegalese professors, but after their divorce her mother raised her in the towerblocks of Hauts-de-Seine. (Bonus trivia: as teenager, she only got to go on holidays thanks to the summer holiday camps which the communist French People’s Aid ran for the underprivileged).
It was a “fairytale”, as Guardian journalist Angelique Chrisafis called Dati’s story last month. But is it, now, as she put it, a fairytale that “has started to go spectacularly wrong”? “The rise and fall of Rachida Dati,” her article was called. This month sees a new article headlined “The rise and fall of Rama Yade“. So what happened?
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