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I am reading the campaign book of politician Anne Hidalgo. Une femme française. Yes, in French. This book is probably quite unique in the Netherlands. Less than a thousand copies have been sold worldwide. Hidalgo, of Spanish origin, has cooly started her second term as mayor of Paris. She is thereby continuing the refreshing hiatus from an endless row of male predecessors. A reward from the electorate because during Corona, she fast-tracked her progressive initiative to reinvent Paris. With innovation-driven economic strategies as a contractual obligation. Its positive impact on the living environment brought into practice during a crisis suddenly became inescapably visible. The extremely dense Parisian fabric with its narrow streets liberated from the car regained breathing space.

First female president

She meanwhile has ambitions to become the first female president of France next year. However, with only a few percent of the vote in the latest polls, there is a good chance that she will suffer the same fate as her great example Hillary Clinton.

Also interesting: France is innovating as fast as a train at Station F

Then again, it’s still possible. Miracles are not out of the question because the age of women has well and truly arrived. That much is clear. Gone are the days when great innovations could be developed without women playing any part. Even though innovating without women went just fine. Just think of the democratic model that, not coincidentally, sees life as parallel to the modern ancient city. A combination that, as it happens, turns out to be incredibly enduring. We still name important treaties as a matter of course after the city in which they were concluded. Take the Treaty of Paris. Or the Treaty of Maastricht. Cities have also survived so much longer than countries and they are invariably at the forefront of new developments. Just last weekend, the city of Berlin voted to expropriate a quarter of a million homes from real estate companies to get a better grip on exorbitantly rising housing costs. Who would have thought that? The times they are a-changing.

Power shifts

Like Paris, a remarkable number of other megacities now have women at the helm. Tokyo, Mexico City, Sydney, Surat, Yokohama, Madrid, Rome, Surabaya, Nagpur, Managua, Bucharest, Havana and last but not least, our very own Amsterdam.
That raises curiosity about the quintessence of that power shifting to women.

Also read: Prince Constantijn: ‘Is a bunch of white men really the image you want to convey?’

Anne Hidalgo’s book with the word woman featured prominently in the title therefore seemed like a must read. On that aspect, however, it falls short. Or perhaps I don’t understand it very well, that’s also a possibility. The nature of female power is the despair of restraint, I read a whole chapter long. Yes, sometimes that is true, of course. Coincidentally, a few days ago after a concert I was cycling in a large crowd at the same pace as the Audi of Willem-Alexander and Maxima. Nodding, she waved away all the tension before it could arise with a perfectly closed hand. Fascinating charisma. Restraint in action.

But the power of women, so I suspect, is ultimately not found in restraint but in the subtle difference to that of men. Unfortunately, Hidalgo does not shed any illuminating light on that. So I have a tip for the campaign. Shift the emphasis to the content. The content is ironclad. Considérer, réparer, préparer. That is the essence of her vision on innovative leadership which really wants to improve the lives of citizens. Review, weigh up, examine, repair, and properly prepare the basis for everyone’s future.
She has my vote.

About this column

In a weekly column, alternately written by Bert Overlack, Eveline van Zeeland, Eugene Franken, Helen Kardan, Katleen Gabriels, Carina Weijma, Bernd Maier-Leppla andColinda de Beer, Innovation Origins tries to figure out what the future will look like. These columnists, sometimes joined by guest bloggers, are all working in their own way to find solutions to the problems of our time. So tomorrow will be good.  Here are all the previous articles.