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Women’s rights

France and women's rights

Defending women’s rights, promoting gender equality and combating gender-based violence are some of the key priorities for France’s diplomatic efforts to promote and protect human rights. France is particularly committed to compliance with and implementation of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW, adopted in 1979) and its Optional Protocol, as well as the outcomes of the Cairo International Conference on Population and Development (1994) and the Beijing 4th World Conference on Women (Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, 1995).

At the United Nations

As an active defender and promoter of women’s rights in international fora, France contributed to the adoption of Security Council resolutions on "Women, Peace and Security". These resolutions (resolutions 1325, 1820, 1888, 1889, 1960, 2106 and 2122) call upon States to provide increased protection for women during conflicts and to ensure increased participation by women in peace-making negotiations and decision-making processes. In October 2010, France adopted a national action plan for implementation of the "Women, Peace and Security" resolutions. France supports the work of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict, responsible for combating conflict-related sexual violence and appointing Women’s Protection Advisers to be deployed as part of peacekeeping operations.

At France’s instigation, a Working Group on discrimination against women in law and in practice was established at the 15th Human Rights Council session in 2010 to supplement existing mechanisms.

In 2006, France together with the Netherlands presented a biannual resolution to the General Assembly of the United Nations on the intensification of efforts to eliminate all forms of violence against women. By 2012, a number of areas of progress were noted, such as the inclusion of a reference to reproductive rights and the reintroduction of the theme of sexual and reproductive health, as well as reference to domestic violence as the most common form of violence against women.

In addition, France is closely involved in the activities of the Commission on the Status of Women, an ECOSOC functional commission dedicated to gender equality and the advancement of women. . Its last session in March 2013 was focused on combating violence against women and girls.

France is committed to gender equality being a guiding principle in the new sustainable development goals (SDGs), integrated both as a specific goal and in a cross-cutting manner. The next session of the Commission on the Status of Women will be held in March 2014 on the theme of challenges and achievements in the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals for women and girls.

France also supported the creation of UN Women, sharing fully in the agency’s priorities and developing a number of joint cooperation programmes. Its partnership with the agency was further strengthened by the signing of a framework cooperation agreement in May 2012. The first high-level consultations between France and UN Women took place in New York in September 2013.

European Union diplomacy

Within the European Union, and further to the "Guidelines on violence against women and girls and combating all forms of discrimination against them", adopted in 2008 under France’s Presidency of the EU, France supports the priority given by the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs to the promotion of women’s rights in EU foreign relations.

France also played an active role in drawing up the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence, was one of the first signatories to the convention (in May 2011) and is currently pursuing the ratification procedure.

Other initiatives

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MAE) adopted a new “Gender and Development” strategy (2013-2017) in July 2013, enshrining the principle of gender equality at the heart of all French development programmes and projects and defining an action framework promoting gender mainstreaming across all areas of work.

Through its cooperation policy, France supports numerous gender equality efforts, including in the area of combating violence against women, fighting maternal and infant mortality, and promoting girls’ access to schooling and the economic empowerment of women.

Updated on : 03.12.13

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