French presidential election: what’s at stake for women

Otherwise, gender equality has featured little in a campaign dominated by the war in Ukraine and the cost of living, but feminist organizations and academics are nonetheless working to draw attention to the main issues women in the country will face over the next five years. years, including femicide, gender-gender Islamophobia. , wage inequality and precarious work.

An Oxfam France report published last month stated the following:Gender equality: big cause, small results‘. The report notes that the €1.3 billion allocated to all gender equality measures represents only 0.25% of the total national budget. On the contrary, a collective of feminist groups is urging the next president, whoever he is, to invest 1 billion euros on domestic violence alone within the first 100 days of office.
This is the first presidential election since the #MeToo movement began in 2017, as well as related campaigns such as #MeTooIncest, which sparked a wave of survivor testimonies and led the government to tighten laws around the age of consentraising it to 15 in general and 18 in cases of incest.
“There is progress. We can’t deny it,” says Mael Noir, member of the #NousToutes (All of us) collective, which campaigns against gender-based violence in France. But Noir talks about “splashing” policies related to violence against women, including introduction of fines for street violencewill not succeed without deeper reforms, such as changing the role of the justice system.
As part of the 2019 National Inquiry into Domestic Violence, a government analysis found that 80% of complaints were rejected prosecutors. And in a case that has come to symbolize the failure of the police to tackle domestic violence, 31-year-old Shahinez Daoud was killed by ex-husband near her home last year, after police first failed to notify her that he had been released from prison where he was serving a sentence for violence against her, and then failed to investigate a subsequent assault complaint.
The Interior Department declined to respond to CNN’s request for comment on police handling of domestic violence cases due to restrictions placed on government representatives during the presidential campaign.
Since 2017 640 women were killed by a current or former partner, according to Femicides by a Partner or Ex, a volunteer organization that compiles statistics based on media reports.
In addition to requiring mandatory training for police officers and all public officials who come into contact with victims on dealing with intimate partner violence, Noir said #NousToutes is advocating a large-scale public awareness campaign based on the former president’s highly successful campaign. Jacques Chirac. road safety programwhich included consistent public messages from the Élysée and a 40% reduction in road deaths.
For many French feminists, Macron’s choice of far-right Gérald Darmanin as interior minister in 2020 is an original sin that is hard to forgive. Darmanin was under investigation for rape when he was given a job that puts him in charge of the police. The appointment prompted hundreds of women to take to the streets in protest.
“The message sent was absolutely stunning,” says Lea Chamboncelle, host of a podcast about French politics. popol and book author More women in politics!. For feminists, “after that, everything was done, finished, finished,” she says.
Advocate Darmanin called the accusations groundless and Macron defended his decision on the basis of the presumption of innocence, saying that he trusted the minister.”man to man.” The investigation was closed in 2021, and the prosecutor’s office requested a formal dismissal Earlier this year.
Darmanin was also the public face of the French “separatismA law passed in 2021 that gave the government new powers to close mosques, tighten control over religious charities and NGOs, and in some cases refuse homeschooling. The law was intended to reinforce official Republican values ​​and fight Islamist extremism, but civil rights advocates say it had cooling effect on the Muslim population more broadly, in a country where veiled women in particular have often been the subject of debate over laïcité, the French version of secularism.

“The law changes most civil liberties by weakening them,” says Rim-Sara Alwan, a lawyer and researcher at the Capitoline University of Toulouse. “This affects a range of people, but the law was designed to frame and control Muslims. And the first victims will be Muslim women.”

In a recent tweetMacron’s alleged opponent in the second round, far-right Marine Le Pen, illustrated her proposal to write the “fight against communitarianism” into the French constitution with a picture of a veiled woman with a blurred face.

Le Pen, who calls herself a feminist, has worked in recent years to tone down her image.

“She deliberately introduced a feminization strategy,” Chamboncelle says, adding that the National Rally leader “normalized” her party and made it her mission to promote more women in her campaign. Before the 2012 elections, 19% of women said they would vote for the far right, according to a polling group. Ifop; 10 years later, this figure has increased to 34%.
An analysis gender equality policies in the manifestos of all 12 presidential candidates, a group of graduate students from the University of Sciences Po described Le Pen’s agenda, which places little emphasis on gender equality measures, as “femonationalist“. IN “Letter to French women‘, published on International Women’s Day, Le Pen vowed to deport immigrants who were involved in street harassment if she became France’s first female president.

“During the health crisis, we welcomed all these important jobs, 80-90% women. But we don’t recognize their value.”

Economist Rachel Silvera

With inflation rising, Le Pen is campaigning hard against the cost of living. But she is one of the few candidates who has not proposed raising the minimum wage, a policy that would have a huge impact on the women who make up 59% employed for this wage. Macron Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire vowed to raise the minimum wage by 25 euros per month from this summer.
Left-wing candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon proposed an increase of 131 euros a month. In broad gender equality programhe also pledged 1 billion euros, demanded by feminist organizations, to fight domestic violence.
Many of the women on the minimum wage are “essential workers“During the pandemic, the country has become dependent on professions where the workforce is almost entirely female, such as home care, nursing and social work.
“During the health crisis, we applauded and praised the virtues of all these essential jobs, where 80 to 90% are occupied by women,” says the economist. Rachel Silvera from the University of Paris-Nanterre, who leads the research group on the labor market and gender. “But we don’t recognize their value.”
Silvera notes that while women have been hit hard by Covid-19 over the past two years, France has so far escaped mass layoffs observed in other countries thanks to the extension of partial unemployment payments throughout the health crisis. But at 16%, France gender pay gap remains slightly above the EU average of 13%.

For her next term in office, Silvera says the best way to reduce the economic disparity between men and women is to raise wages in these highly feminized occupations. So far, Macron’s gender equality policy has mostly helped women “at the top of the pyramid,” she says.

According to the World Economic Forum, this will require 52 years old narrow the gender gap in Western Europe. This is more than ten times longer than the next president will have to deal with gender inequality. It may take a few more “great deeds” before France achieves its founding ideal of equal rights – equality.

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