French finance minister Christine Lagarde was today announced as the first female leader of the International Monetary Fund. She takes over from Dominique Strauss-Kahn, beginning her five-year term on 5 July.
With a background in law, rather than economics, Lagarde made her mark as the first and only female economy minister of a G8 country to date by surrounding herself with strong advisers and by using her impeccable English and media savvy to get her message out. The Financial Times named her last year the best economy minister in the eurozone and Forbes ranked her the 17th-most important woman in the world.
Her role at the heart of the eurozone debt crisis was probably crucial in securing her new position with the IMF. She has been a champion of eurozone solidarity, urging the likes of Germany and France to pull together to support weaker members. She also played a key role in securing a 750 billion euro (�673bn) EU-rescue fund during the debt market crisis in 2009.
Talking about negotiations such as these, Lagarde has said that her understated, feminine approach can prove an asset when dealing with male peers.
The chancellor, George Osborne, hailed Lagarde as "good news for the global economy and for Britain". He said "She is the best person for the job, which is why Britain was one of the first countries to propose her. She has been a strong advocate for countries tackling high budget deficits and living within their means."
President Nicolas Sarkozy described the appointment as a "victory for France", even though her departure leaves him vulnerable to attacks that the strong female cabinet presence he promised has evaporated.
?I am deeply honoured by the trust placed in me,? said Miss Lagarde of her new role.