France committed to fighting violence against women internationally (25 November 2019)


Across the globe, we are resolutely committed to fighting all forms of violence against women and girls. At a time when gender equality was declared a major cause of the President’s term of office, we are pursuing our work to defend it in international organisations and taking concrete action to stop this scourge in the world.

Rallying the support of all States in international organizations to eliminate violence

France reaffirms its support to the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) and calls on all States to unreservedly implement it. As it stands today, rapists who marry or are married to their victims go unpunished in 37 countries. The international community must join forces to end the impunity of perpetrators of violence against women, taking all necessary legal steps.

LFrance calls for all States to ratify the Council of Europe’s Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence (the Istanbul Convention), which seeks to ensure that each State shoulders its responsibilities in the struggle against this violence. As chair of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe and of the G7, in 2019, we have launched an active campaign to promote this Convention among Members States which have not yet ratified the Convention and among third States. Several African and Asian States have already expressed interest to subscribe to the commitments under the Convention, one of the most ambitious international tools to fight against gender-based violence.

Since 2006, every two years, together with the Netherlands, France presents a resolution at the United Nations General Assembly on fighting violence against women. The last resolution, adopted by consensus, introduced at this level for the first time provisions recognising harassment, including sexual harassment, against women as gender-based violence. In 2020 we will present another resolution on the same subject.

In March 2019, in the UN Commission on the Status of Women, France and the European Union supported the adoption of Agreed Conclusions aiming to ensure that social protection, public service and sustainable infrastructure contribute to preventing and eliminating violence against women and girls.

France expresses on this subject its concerns regarding the toxic climate of the negotiations, during which several delegations were subject to pressure. The Commission on the Status of Women is a unique forum within the UN to promote women’s rights, together with civil society.

This year again, France actively contributed to the adoption and the implementation of the Security Council resolutions on Women, Peace and Securitywhich call for States to strengthen the protection of women during conflicts and increase the participation of women in peace negotiations and decision-making processes. Since 2010, we have adopted two national action plans implementing the Women, Peace and Security Agenda. The third National Action Plan is being drawn up. This agenda was also a priority of the French presidency of the G7, leading to the adoption of the Dinard Declaration on Women, Peace and Security (PDF, 213.9 kb). We have also actively contributed to the first EU Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security. We welcome the fact that the EU has integrated the subject into its action and in particular the importance of defining a common response to gender-based violence used as a weapon in conflict.

The year 2020 will mark 25 years since the United Nations’ Fourth World Conference on Women, which was held in Beijing in 1995, the 20th anniversary of the adoption of the first resolution of the Women, Peace and Security Agenda and the 5th anniversary of the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals. France, with our European and international partners, will use these commemorations – and in particular the Generation Equality Forum, co-organised from 7 to 10 July 2020 with UN Women and Mexico – to call for structural changes with regard to women’s rights. The meeting in Paris, which follows the first one in Mexico, will bring together all those able to create a new dynamic for women’s rights: States, international organizations, civil society and the private sector. With UN Women and Mexico, we seek to make women’s rights a major global cause with a view to 2025 and 2030.

Fighting violence against women, a G7 priority

Four major initiatives for fighting violence against women, but also for defending their rights and their empowerment were adopted at the Summit of the Heads of State:

  • The creation of the Global Survivors Fund, a global fund for survivors of conflict-related sexual violence, by the Nobel Peace Prize winners Denis Mukwege and Nadia Murad.
  • The Biarritz Partnership for Gender Equality, based on the work of the Gender Equality Advisory Council, compiled 80 examples of model laws to promote equality in education, health, the fight against discrimination and economic empowerment. Eleven other countries have already joined this partnership and the aim is to pursue membership and create a coalition of States engaging in adopting new progressive gender equality laws.
  • €250 million raised for the Affirmative Finance Action for Women in Africa or AFAWA Initiative of the African Development Bank to facilitate financing of female African entrepreneurs.
  • The launch of a support programme for developing countries to put equality at the heart of education systems, the Priority to Equality Programme.

Helping female victims of violence in conflicts rebuild their lives

Thanks to the Crisis and Support Centre of the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs, and in line with the commitment that President Macron made to the Nobel Peace Prize winner Nadia Murad, 100 Yazidi women and their children have come to live in France in 2019. In Libya, France supports the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), which will help establish a toll-free number for female victims of sexual violence who will thereby have access to psychological and social support and legal advice. In North-East Syria, several projects are particularly aimed at women and girls, including to improve access to health services – maternity, sexual health and reproductive rights – and to prevent gender-based violence.

Informing our fellow citizens about the risks of forced marriage and supporting them after sexual assault abroad

In its travel advice(in French), the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs alerts potential victims of forced marriages and provides advice and support to victims. French consulates also provide assistance to French women who are victims of sexual assault abroad.

Read about the assistance we can provide in the case of forced marriage (in French)

Leading by example

At the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs, fighting sexual and gender-based violence is an issue that receives particular attention. The Ministry has a specific “Zero Tolerance” support and guidance unit and educates its workers in training courses and communication campaigns.