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Posts Tagged ‘Elections’

Influential French Women: Christiane Taubira

In Biography, Politics on May 17, 2012 at 12:02 pm

Christiane Taubira. Image from lemonde.fr

Christiane Taubira was recently announced to have become the new Minister for Justice in Hollande and Ayrault’s newly formed government. Élisabeth Guigou was the first woman to become France’s Minister for Justice in 1997. In the years following Guigou’s appointment, three out of five ministers occupying that post have been female.  So Christiane’s appointment has not been entirely ground-breaking in terms of female representation, but she is however the first minister from one of France’s over-seas territories to take up the position.

Christiane has been a députée [MP] for French Guyana since 1993. This means that she has been elected to the French assemblée nationale [parliament] as representative for her department [region]. She has changed political allegiances throughout her career, beginning as an independent candidate in 1993, but every party she has stood for have always been radical socialist or leftist parties.

French Guyana in relation to France. From http://www.wikipedia.org

Her most notable work in her political career has been putting her name to the French law no. 2001-434: For the recognition of human trafficking and slavery as a crime against humanity (Loi no 2001-434 du 21 mai 2001 tendant à la reconnaissance de la traite et de l’esclavage en tant que crime contre l’humanité). This law was passed in 2001, and recognized that slavery in the 15th century of which France partook, was illegal and a crime against humanity. Article 2 of the law also states that these crimes should be compulsorily taught within schools through history lessons in order to educate French children about these events. This law, although some have criticised it for only applying to the enslavement of African peoples,  has helped to officially recognize France’s colonial past and the weight of history which its overseas territories carry.

For more information on Christiane and her new role as Minister for Justice, see her webiste here, the official Minister for Justice site here and her Le Monde news stream here.

Hollande Delivers on Equality Promise

In Politics, Society on May 16, 2012 at 9:04 pm

Image from Liberation.fr

During campaign season, Hollande was very forthcoming about his promises regarding women’s rights. From childcare to contraception, he set out several policies which aimed to help women in their everyday lives. There was a certain amount of scepticism as to whether all of these policies would be implemented after a potential election victory.

Today Hollande announced who would be the members of his cabinet, including the newly-created post of Minister for the Rights of Women (as promised in his International Women’s Day speech). The cabinet included, for the first time in French history, an equal number of male and female ministers. All the names that were announced have long been prominent names in French political activism and politics, such as; Cécile Duflot [Minister for Housing], Najat Vallaud-Belkacem [Minister for the Rights of Women] and Christiane Taubira [Minster for Justice]. Hollande has also been credited for reflecting France’s cultural and racial diversity in his appointments.

It seems that Hollande has begun to follow through with his promises to women. Although we are unable to see the long-term changes only several days into his presidency, it is clear that Hollande’s decisions today will be forever remembered as a momentous occasion for women in France.

For more information on this news, see the Guardian’s article here, Liberation’s coverage of the new cabinet here and Le Monde’s candidate-by-candidate break-down here. Also, why not read Triple F’s profiles of  some of these influential women? [See Archives]

Poll: Who would you vote for in the second round?

In Politics, Poll on April 22, 2012 at 7:07 pm

Image from lefiagro.fr

According to my very small poll on this site, the two candidates through to the second round would have been Eva Joly and François Hollande.  However, in reality, according to exit polls François Hollande and Nicholas Sarkozy have been chosen as the two presidential candidates who will stand against each other in the second round. See the Guardian live blog here.

This poll has the same principle as the last, vote for who you would like to win, not who you think will win.

Let’s see if it matches reality.

If Hollande becomes President, will it benefit the women of France?

In Politics, Society on March 27, 2012 at 7:39 pm

François Hollande in Reims. Image from francoishollande.fr.

“It is the 8th of March and it’s International Women’s Day. But this can’t be the fight of just one day, it should be a fight fought daily, every day, and it will be something we undertake together.” – François Hollande

“Nous sommes le 8 mars, c’est la Journée internationale des femmes. Mais ce ne peut pas être le combat d’un jour ; ce doit être le combat de chaque jour, de tous les jours, et ce sera le sens de ce que nous allons engager ensemble.” – François Hollande

A quick look at the latest polls will tell you that Francois Hollande is most likely to be voted in as France’s next President. But what does this mean for France’s female population, and will it satisfy French feminists?

In a speech made in Riems (on International Women’s Day -8th March), Hollande said, “I want to tell (all the women) of the France of tomorrow, of the France after the 6th of May, that it will be a France where women will have the same opportunities, the same rights and the same capacity as men to succeed in their lives.” (Je veux (à toutes les femmes) dire que la France de demain, la France de l’après 6 mai, ce sera la France où les femmes auront les mêmes chances, les mêmes droits, les mêmes capacités que les hommes pour réussir leur vie.) He obviously has a good speech writer, but what does he propose to actually do to achieve these aims?

As has already been discussed on this blog, February saw debates arise about the accessibility of contraception for minors in France. Almost a month after the publication of a report recommending contraception be made more freely available for teenagers in France, François Hollande announced on his website and during his speech in Reims that he would support universal and free contraception to be made accessible for young girls across the country: “We have young teenage girls who can’t access contraception, for reasons related to where they live and their family situation… I will therefore introduce a plan for contraception for minors. The day after the election, there will be a reform to implement this plan which will offer these young women, throughout the country, access to free and anonymous contraception with consultation from a doctor.” (Nous avons des jeunes filles mineures qui ne peuvent pas accéder à la contraception, pour des raisons qui tiennent à la géographie, à la situation de famille…J’instaurerai donc un forfait mineur contraception. Il y aura au lendemain de l’élection présidentielle une réforme mettant en œuvre ce forfait qui offrira à ces jeunes filles, partout sur le territoire, l’accès à la contraception gratuite, accompagnée par un médecin et anonyme.) This is good news, surely, for feminists in France who have been fighting for greater free and anonymous access to birth-control, although there will surely be some struggle with the right wing to make this possible.

“The feminist battle is a social battle. It’s a battle for the recognition of dignity, for solidarity. It’s a fight that recognises the unique circumstances of women, but above that, one that wants to overcome the inevitable gender differences in nature, in each journey, in our origins in order to bring us together as one republic, the French Republic, based on these values.” – François Hollande

“Le combat féministe est un combat social. C’est un combat pour la reconnaissance de la dignité, pour l’égalité, pour la solidarité. C’est un combat qui reconnaît la situation particulière des femmes, mais au-delà, qui veut dépasser ce qui est forcément des différences liées au sexe, à la nature, au parcours, aux origines, pour nous mettre ensemble dans la même République, la République française, fondée sur des valeurs.” – François Hollande

Hollande proposes to address male and female inequalities in politics and law by creating a Minister for the Rights of Women (un ministère du Droit des femmes). He hastens to note that this new minister will not be there to create further bureaucracy and more laws but make sure there are laws which are, “better enforced, effective and able to be realistically applied” (c’est des lois mieux appliquées, effectives et capables de mettre le droit dans la réalité).

In his speech, Hollande directly addresses the male-female pay gap in France (with a woman’s average salary almost 25% lower than a man’s). He insists companies will be made to enforce equal pay law effectively, and if they don’t comply they will lose tax benefits related to women’s jobs. This is a great idea in theory, but it remains to be tested in practise.

Hollande then addresses what he views to be the three biggest issues of inequality facing French women in today’s society – childcare, abortion rights and violence against women.

Firstly he talks about the need for more accessible childcare, especially when 80% of all part-time jobs are taken by women. He hopes that this would allow more women to find stable and full-time work without the worries of finding affordable childcare. There are no details as to how this would be financed.

The second proposal he announces on the subject of reproduction rights, however, is much bolder. He proposes to make abortions free through social security for every women, not just minors, and available in every medical facility in France. This is a big move for a country which did not legalize abortion until 1975 and will undoubtedly face opposition.

The third and final proposal seeks to help end violence against women. If elected, Hollande wants to make it legally possible for women to force violent partners out of the home in order to stabilize family life and housing for children and women in violent relationships.

Hollande may be able to talk the feminist talk, but it remains to be seen whether any of his great proposals will find support or funding. It is one thing to support women in pre-election speeches, but the real test will be to see what happens when he gets the keys to the office.

Read Hollande’s speech here, his proposals for contraception for minors here and the Guardian news feed for François Hollande here

Influential French Women: Eva Joly

In Biography, Politics on December 19, 2011 at 8:58 pm

I have already discussed on this blog why Eva Joly is the most women’s-rights-friendly candidate on the ballot for the French 2012 presidential elections. So, let me present you with a short bio of the woman who could become France’s president in 2012.

Short Biography

Joly was born in Oslo, Norway in 1948 with dual French-Norwegian nationality. Joly moved to Paris when she was 20 to work as an au pair. She then went on to marry the son of the Joly family who employed her. Joly worked to support her husband through medical school, but eventually studied herself and became a magistrate aged 38.

Joly is best known for her 8 year investigation into corruption in the well-known multinational oil company Elf in the 1990s. She received death threats and continued her investigation despite the risks to her safety.

Today Joly is the Presidential candidate for the Europe, écologie et les verts (l’EELV). In her election campaign Joly presents a ‘green’ economy as the “the only way to get out of the [financial] crisis” (seul chemin pour sortir de la crise”.)

Media Coverage of Joly

Unsurprisingly, the left-wing press widely report developments in Joly’s presidential campaign and the green cause. In the wider press, however, Joly is not so well received. For example in the more right-wing press such as Le Figaro, her dual nationality is a point of contention. The question is always if Joly is French enough to be running for president. In an article from July this year Joly states, “I am French by choice and conviction” (Je suis française par choix et par conviction). Her accent has also raised questions of the legitimacy of her presidential candidacy. Joly reacted to this in a video which celebrates the diversity of the French accent and the proud patriotic reasons why immigrants choose to live in France.

Why should you know about her?

She best represents the feminist interest in the French Presidential elections and she is an accomplished magistrate who has fought for her beliefs throughout her career. Furthermore, Joly could not only be the next President, but the first female President in French history.

For more information see the video for yourself here (very much worth a watch if you understand French), Joly’s official biography here (French) and a recent Guardian interview here

 

Eva Joly’s Commitment to Pay Equality

In Politics on December 16, 2011 at 5:03 pm

Eva Joly: French Presidential Candidate 2012. Image from http://evajoly2012.fr/

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’égalitéspecifically 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