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Posts Tagged ‘Teenagers’

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

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Is contraception soon to be free for minors in France?

In Health, Society on February 18, 2012 at 3:22 pm

Image from liberation.fr

A report entitled “Let’s talk to our teens about sex? Preventing unplanned pregnancies in young girls.” (Et si on parlait de sexe à nos ados ? Pour éviter les grossesses non prévues chez les jeunes filles) was presented to the French Secretary of State for Young People on the 16th of February, this week.

The report, conducted by one of France’s foremost gynaecologists Israël Nisand, recommends that the government and pharmaceutical companies work together to provide free and anonymous contraception for young girls in France. The proposal advocates the anonymity of access to contraception because, at present, contraception for minors is only available through the health insurance of parents and guardians. The professionals who have produced the report hope that access to free and anonymous contraception would reduce the number of abortions undertaken by young girls.

This position on birth control, although supported by politicians such as the current Secretary of State for Young People, Jeanette Bougrab, has met opposition from others, most notably Nora Berra the Secretary of State for Health. Ms. Berra, in 2011, stated her preference for free and anonymous access to contraception to remain available only in family planning centres. Furthermore, the plans that were blocked in 2011 were mainly aimed at women between the ages of 20 and 30, not at teenage girls.

Currently there are some regional systems in place that allow teenagers in France access to one free medical consultation and free contraception without the involvement of their parents. It is noted by infirmiers.com that the regional system of “Pass Contraception” is mainly supported by the left politically.

In 2011 Ms. Berra, part of the right-wing UMP (Also the party of current French President Nicholas Sarkozy), commented, “I want it remembered that the pill is a drug (…) I don’t want it to be suggested that this is a small pill  that can be taken easily without any risks.” (Je veux rappeler que la pilule est un médicament (…) je ne veux pas laisser penser que c’est une petite pilule sans risque qu’on peut prendre facilement). In the same article she also urges people not to under-estimate the “potential toxicity” (toxicité potentielle) of the contraceptive pill, making reference to the risk of Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) in some women who take the pill.

For those with a feminist perspective at egalite-infos.fr, however, it is hoped that “this new report does not go unheard, and that the future government is able to broaden its horizons beyond reading damning findings.” (Espérons que ce nouveau rapport ne reste pas lettre morte. Et que le futur gouvernement se donne les moyens de ne pas se cantonner à la lecture d’accablants constats.)

For more information read the egalite-infos.fr article here, the Le Monde article here and the Libération article here (All in French, unfortunately!).