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 “March 8: A Day to Remember Year-Round”

“March 8: A Day to Remember Year-Round”

Published on March 8, 2013
Excerpts from the opening speech by M. François Hollande, President of the Republic and statement by M. Laurent Fabius, Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Paris, March 7, 2013


Our battle, your battle, isn’t confined to national borders. It’s also a European battle. All the principles I’ve just mentioned are in the charters, in the European texts. There too, there’s a lot to be done – to be done in France to implement the texts and to be done so that France can initiate other texts in Europe.

Beyond Europe there’s the world. There’s this battle we must fight because we’re France: a France who isn’t exemplary – I’ve testified to that here – but a France who upholds women’s dignity and freedom. We can’t and won’t tolerate women being banned from getting an education and healthcare, from choosing a spouse or divorcing. We can’t and don’t tolerate women being victims of so-called “honour crimes” and mutilations. We don’t and won’t tolerate women being prevented from living, going out and falling in love. Those who behave in this way will always be confronted by France.

If some people wonder, “why is France in Mali?” it’s because there were women who were victims of oppression and barbarity, there were women who were dressed in the veil without having asked for it themselves, there were women who could no longer leave their homes, there were women who were beaten because they wanted to be free.

If some people wonder, “why are we in Mali?” it’s because we want to fight terrorism, barbarity and fundamentalism, because we also want religious freedom, because the people who were treated that way were Muslims, and because we supported their own conception of Islam!

If some people wonder “why are we in Mali?” it’s because a president asked us to go there, a legitimate president whose obligation – and he’ll honour it – was to organize elections. My greetings to his wife, who is among us; through her, I extend my solidarity to the Malian people.

I also reiterated these messages of freedom, dignity and emancipation to the father of the young Malala Yousafzai; she quite simply wanted to learn and she was wounded precisely because she wanted to gain access to culture and education. I want to express here – to her father but also to her – our admiration and support.

Women’s freedom, equality and dignity are a universal cause. It’s one of the great causes that makes us the French Republic. It’s not a one-day commitment. It’s not even a one-year commitment. (…) No, this cause – women’s freedom and dignity – is the justification of any mandate carried out in the name of the French people, and first of all in my name. That’s why I’ll be reporting on it at every moment, and not just on 8 March, so that at the end of this five-year term we can say (…) that women’s rights have made progress, equality has made progress and we can together be proud that French women and men are together as equals in the Republic. Thank you.

Statement by M. Laurent Fabius, Minister of Foreign Affairs (March 7, 2013)

This morning, Mr. Laurent Fabius will receive, in the presence of Ms. Yamina Benguigui, Minister Delegate for Francophonie, Ms. Hélène Conway-Mouret, Minister Delegate for French Nationals Abroad, civil society figures as well as French and foreign diplomats to discuss the topic “Women’s role in decision-making.”

The minister will also host a meeting bringing together ministry of foreign affairs’ personnel to discuss the promotion of gender equality within the ministry and the ministerial plan implemented since he took office. The minister’s statement will then be sent by email to all
personnel, in France and abroad.

Lastly, International Women’s Day will provide an opportunity for the minister to reaffirm, through a video message on Facebook, Twitter and the France diplomatie website, the importance of women’s rights and France’s commitment to ensuring respect for these rights.

Our diplomatic and consular network is also mobilized and is proposing a variety of initiatives to promote International Women’s Day.

- Click here for a video of Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius on the subject of International Women’s Day.

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