Secretary General of La Francophonie
Starting January 2015, Michaëlle Jean is the head the International Organisation of La Francophonie (OIF), the international body that oversees political action among nations that share French as a common language. She holds the highest office in the Organisation, of which she is also the official spokesperson and the legal representative at the international level. She is the successor to Abdou Diouf, who headed the OIF for 12 years and whose heritage she intends to protect.
Michaëlle Jean has always been committed to making French, as well as linguistic and cultural diversity, blossom and shine, and to promoting the vibrancy of the Canadian and international francophone communities. Her resolve in this matter shows early and throughout her working life, including as an activist within the women's movement in Quebec and elsewhere in Canada, throughout her intensive studies in linguistics, languages, and comparative Italian, Spanish and Hispanic literatures, through her years as a teacher and lecturer at University of Montreal, followed by 18 years as a journalist and news anchor on the two networks (French and English) of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, and in her capacity as 27th Governor General of Canada, as Chancellor of the University of Ottawa and as UNESCO Special Envoy for Haiti, as Grand témoin de la Francophonie for the 2012 London Olympic and Paralympic Games, as well as with the Michaëlle Jean Foundation, the legacy project created in 2010 with her husband, philosopher, filmmaker and writer Jean-Daniel Lafond, to support civic initiatives among youth across Canada.
In June 2014, Prime Minister Stephen Harper put the official support of Canada behind the candidacy of Michaëlle Jean to the OIF, soon followed by support from the governments of Quebec and New Brunswick. The Heads of State and Government gathered in Dakar for the 15th Summit of La Francophonie designated Michaëlle Jean as Secretary General of the International Organisation of La Francophonie on November 29 and 30, 2014. For the first time, the OIF would be headed by a woman.
The four-year term is renewable.
The full version of Michaëlle Jean's candidacy platform for La Francophonie (published in 2014, in French only) outlines her vision and commitments on the following themes:
- Growth, Prosperity and Economic Strategy for La Francophonie;
- Ethic of Sharing, Sustainable Development and Solidarity;
- La Francophonie : Strengths and Potential;
- Women and Youth, Keys to an Economic Strategy and a Culture of Peace;
- French as the Bedrock of La Francophonie;
- Innovation and Digital Francophonie;
- La Francophonie in the World;
- Africa and the Future of La Francophonie;
- For the OIF: Impetus, Leadership and Meaning.