Prioritizing Gender Equality
Since his election to presidency on May 15, 2012, François Hollande has pledged to promote gender equity in all sectors of French business and culture. The current government is the first in France’s history to be equally represented by both men and women. One day after entering the presidency, Mr. Hollande appointed Najat Vallaud-Belkacem to the position of Minister of Women’s Rights.
The Ministry of Women’s Rights has outlined key goals, including creating an impartial work environment, protecting women victimized by domestic violence, and decreasing negative images of women in the media. Women’s health care, equal opportunities in education, and increased child support are also principal concerns addressed by the President and his appointee.
During the Conférence Sociale on July 12, 2012, more than 300 French employers and social organization representatives met to discuss a two-fold problem impeding professional parity: unequal pay between men and women for comparable jobs, and disproportionate numbers of women in part-time positions. According to the Ministry of Women’s Rights, part time work places women in fiscally precarious situations, affecting one out of three women in France. In response, legislation has been proposed that would establish groups to more closely monitor payment and hiring practices to better enforce established law guaranteeing equal treatment in the workplace.
Last September, the Ministry of Higher Education and Research worked with the Ministry of Women’s Rights to draft policies making gender equality in scholarly settings a priority at all levels of education. The Charter for Equality of Women and Men, created in 2012 by three educational councils, encourages the use of “non-sexist language” to create a more inclusive academic environment. In an effort to curtail traditional male and female stereotypes, the French government has created “The ABCs of Equality,” aimed at teaching elementary students to look beyond traditional gender roles.
The French government is leading significant policies that protect women’s physical and mental health. In addition to providing free or reimbursable birth control, the government has passed new laws that better protect women against sexual harassment in the workplace and at home. Available capacity in women’s shelters has expanded by more than 15,000 since President Hollande took office, and 2013 marks “The Year of Equality” which aims to expand principles of International Women’s Day.
On July 9, the French government examined a bill that would amend existing legislation to better ensure that already-recognized rights for women are maintained and upheld more effectively.
To read a related report, "A Third Generation of Women’ s Rights," please click here.