Lagarde Urges Wider Respect for Women in Wake of Trump’s Victory

(Bloomberg) -- International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde called for greater attention to protecting the dignity of women, saying everyone has a responsibility to combat misogyny.

Asked what the election of Donald Trump as U.S. president means for gender equality, Lagarde said in an interview with Bloomberg Editor-in-Chief John Micklethwait in New York on Friday that she hoped that “elegance in dealing with people” will prevail over “low instinct and disparaging comments.”

She emphasized that her comments were not addressed to the U.S. president-elect, noting that there are “many sectors of the world where women are suffering an attitude which puts them in a lower position.”

But she called misogyny inexcusable, and said it is “each and every one of our responsibilities to make sure” anti-women attitudes don’t take hold.

Lagarde, 60, is the first woman to lead the IMF, which was conceived during World War II to promote monetary cooperation and open trade. She has been a proponent of empowering women, urging countries such as Japan to make it easier for females to enter and stay in the workforce, and she often speaks with women’s groups during her visits abroad.

Gender was an issue during the election. During the campaign, a video shot in 2005 emerged which showed Trump boasting about groping women. Hillary Clinton, the defeated Democratic candidate, would have been America’s first female president.

Lagarde Urges Wider Respect for Women in Wake of Trump’s Victory

Lagarde said Friday that global leaders who claim to be feminists need to take more action to help women enter and stay in the workforce -- from requirements for parental leave to removing discriminatory laws. More participation by women in the labor market boosts growth and reduces inequality, she said. Corporations need to do their part by ensuring gender equality on their boards of directors, Lagarde said.

Lagarde took over as head of the IMF in 2011 when Dominique Strauss-Kahn resigned after a hotel maid accused him of sexual assault. Prosecutors eventually dropped a criminal case, and Strauss-Kahn reached an undisclosed civil settlement with the woman.

Lagarde was reappointed in July for a second five-year term after no candidates emerged to challenge her. After serving as chairman of the law firm Baker & McKenzie, Lagarde became France’s finance minister in 2007, making her the first woman to hold that position in a Group of Seven country.