Developing Women's Rights and Taking Gender into Account in Development Policies



France supports programmes specially dedicated to women and the fight against gender-related inequalities, still glaring today, despite the progress achieved thanks to the commitment of the international community and civil society. Two-thirds of illiterate individuals and children not in schools are female. Women are also hurt by poor access to healthcare services, in that over 500,000 of them die each year, during pregnancy. They account for 70% of the 1.2 billion people living with less than 1 dollar per day, even though they perform two-thirds of the number of working hours produced. They also suffer overall from inequalities in access to resources and control exercised over those resources, as well as very little freedom of choice. In order to fight the violence to which they are subject, the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs encourages, for instance, adapting legislation to international standards on promoting and protecting women’s rights. This question, which encompasses Goal 3 in the Millennium Development Goals (“promote gender equality and empower women”) is, in fact, central to all development issues.

For this reason, the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs promotes integrated development, in which women and men are, to the same level, players, beneficiaries and responsible, by fostering the consistent incorporation of the cross-cutting gender issue into its cooperation programmes. A French strategy on gender is currently being developed. It is not limited solely to the handling of female issues, but is intent on taking into account the socially-constructed nature of male and female roles and the power plays that result from them, in order to fight poverty and discrimination more effectively.

For equality in rights and dignity - social equity between all citizens - is a necessary condition for sustainable human development based on respect for the universality of Human Rights and social justice. Gender is also a part of reinstating public places for dialogue, which are central to the governance strategy adopted by France in 2006. The aim is to foster equal participation for all citizens - men and women - in the process of designing and implementing development strategies.