In a recent interview with Libération, founder of the feminist movement Osez le Féminisme (which roughly translates as Dare to be Feminist), Caroline de Haas commented on the role she hopes feminist movements will play in the upcoming 2012 presidential elections; “The priority is to make the equality of men and women a political talking-point, to obtain strong commitments and promises.”(La priorité est de faire de l’égalité entre les hommes et les femmes un sujet politique, de recueillir des engagements forts, des promesses..). Attempting to get feminist issues into the main-stream agenda of either the right or left-wing is not an easy task. So, is anyone listening?
So far there are only 2 women on the 7 person ballot for the 2012 presidential elections: Marine le Pen for the far right Front National and Eva Joly for the leftist Europe, Ecologie, Les Verts (The Greens). Of the two candidates Joly appears to be the woman whose rhetoric comes closest to that of French feminist movements. In November, Joly published a news article on her website entitled: “From Novotel to the Senat, Eva Joly defends equality between men and women” (Du Novotel au Sénat, Eva Joly défend l’égalité entre les femmes et les hommes). The article sees photos of Joly supporting striking Paris hotel workers as they demanded better pay and more secure working hours.The article also notes that Joly’s campaign recognises women as being more likely to be on temporary contracts or in more unstable employment.
Recently, Joly signed Le pacte pour l’égalité (The pact for equality) which includes aims to make pay equal between genders within 5 years, reform maternity leave and increase paternity leave, and make it illegal to have employment contracts of less than 16 hours a week. The pact was written in conjunction with Osez le féminisme as part of the organization Laboratoire de l’égalité, specifically in order to pin down presidential candidates on equality issues. This is exactly the kind of “strong commitment” Haas was looking for. This is not surprising because, after all, her organization helped to design it.
Joly seems to be politically alone with her stance on pay equality. The only other mention of job insecurity is by the left-wing Front de Gauche party who broach the issue by presenting job insecurity as a gender neutral problem. This approach does not actively recognize the percentage of women in precarious employment, nor does it really propose measures to tackle the issue of pay inequality in France.
It seems that Joly is the only candidate really representing women’s concerns and addressing the issues feminist movements really care about. But, of course, only time and the ballot box will tell if Joly will keep her promises to women.
More to come on Joly and the presidential campaigns for 2012. For more information see Joly’s website: http://evajoly2012.fr/ (French) and an interview with Joly done in February 2011 by the Guardian: http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2011/feb/04/eva-joly-interview