Gender equality: a priority for France


Gender equality is a priority for the French government. Internationally, the French Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs delivers on this commitment through its feminist foreign policy.
France is advocating gender equality in international forums and wants this goal to be taken into account in all issues, including inequality reduction and sustainable development, peace and security, defence and promotion of fundamental rights, and climate and economic issues.
By 2025, France is committed to ensuring that 75% of the projects funded by France’s official development assistance helps to improve gender equality.
The Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs must set an example for feminist foreign policy. A proactive policy is being implemented in the Ministry to advance gender equality.

The key focuses of France’s feminist foreign policy are set out in France’s International Strategy for Gender Equality (2018-2022).

By enshrining in the French Constitution, for the first time anywhere in the world, the freedom of women to have recourse to voluntary interruption of pregnancy, France is sending out a unique signal of support for women’s rights and is inviting other countries to follow suit.

Promoting gender equality and women’s status in the world

Still today, women and girls are hit harder by poverty than men, conflict and climate change. They face difficulties and discrimination, in every field and every country.

Women, like men, are actors for sustainable development and the smooth functioning of societies or – in post-crisis countries – for reconstruction. Their representation in all decision-making forums must be promoted. French diplomacy works to foster their participation in economic, political and social development.

Achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals, particularly SDG 5 on gender equality and empowerment of women, and respecting the fundamental rights of women as set out in the International Convention of 1979 on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW-1979) are a priority for France.

Promoting gender equality: a commitment of the French Presidency of the European Union

From January to June 2022, France holds the Presidency of the Council of the European Union (PFUE). At meetings, representatives of the Trio presidencies (Czech Republic, France and Sweden) have made the fight against sexual and gender-based violence and women’s economic empowerment shared priorities.

The Generation Equality Forum: a historic global feminist event (30 June - 2 July 2021)

The Generation Equality Forum was the most important feminist event since the Beijing World Conference on Women in 1995. The Forum was initiated by UN Women and co-chaired by France and Mexico, in partnership with civil society and young people.
It brought together Heads of State and Government and leaders of international organizations, as well as representatives of civil society, young people and the private sector to make historic commitments and advance gender equality over the long term.

At the Forum, a Global Acceleration Plan for Gender Equality was launched and nearly 1,000 tangible and ambitious commitments were announced. To advance over the next five years, the historic amount of $40 billion was raised.

France is committed to working for:

  • women’s sexual and reproductive health and rights and their right to have control over their own bodies (€400 million);
  • girls’ education (50% of €333 million allocated under the Global Partnership for Education);

(in French)

Fighting inequality, a priority for the French G7 Presidency

At the G7 Summit in Biarritz in 2019, States committed to advance the empowerment of women and girls through national actions. France invites other countries to join the Biarritz Partnership. Australia, Chile, India, Senegal, Spain and Ukraine responded to this appeal.

Preventing and fighting violence against women

France is working relentlessly to ensure the situation of women is better taken into account in conflicts: to respond to the specific threats they face, but also to protect and ensure their participation in consolidating peace.

Jean-Yves Le Drian, UN Security Council declaration, 24 October 2017

Message of Anne-Marie Descotes, Secretary-General of the French Ministry for Europe and Foreign. The international day for the elimination of violence against Women.

Preventing all forms of violence against women is a priority for France. Since 2017, the Paris Pledge, presented at the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs on International Women’s Day, called for the international community to remobilize.

In conflict situations, women and girls are often the primary victims. France has actively contributed to adopting and implementing the United Nations Security Council resolutions on Women, Peace and Security. They call on States to strengthen the protection of women and girls during conflicts and to increase the participation of women in peacekeeping operations, peace negotiations and decision-making processes. Since 2010, France has adopted three national action plans implementing the Women, Peace and Security Agenda. Lastly, France is committed to promoting the Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence, known as the Istanbul Convention, which aims to get each State to recognize its responsibility in fighting these forms of violence.

Genuine equality will be impossible as long as societies continue to tolerate or exercise control over women’s bodies, through coercion or violence, whether it be physical or emotional.

Extract from the Paris Pledge, 8 March 2017-

International Fund for Survivors of Conflict-Related Sexual Violence

The International Fund for Survivors of Conflict-Related Sexual Violence builds on the work of Dr Denis Mukwege and Nadia Murad. It aims to provide survivors of conflict-related sexual violence with compensation and reparations and help them reintegrate into society. Dr Denis Mukwege and Nadia Murad lead the initiative in close collaboration and liaison with other public, private and civil society stakeholders. France has announced that it will be contributing €6.2 million to this Fund between 2020 and 2022.
Dr Denis Mukwege is a Congolese gynaecologist specialized in treating women who are victims of rape and sexual violence committed by armed rebels.

Nadia Murad is a member of the Yezidi minority in Northern Iraq. In 2014, she survived the brutal attack by Daesh on her village.

In 2018, Dr Denis Mukwege and Nadia Murad jointly received the Nobel Peace Prize “for their efforts to end the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war and armed conflict”.

Setting an example

Within our ministry itself, we need […] more equality, more justice and more clarity. We must go further in internally implementing the commitment I made for a resolutely feminist foreign policy.

Jean-Yves Le Drian, closing speech at the Ambassadors Conference / 29 August 2019 in French

Setting an example in its internal practices is a key part of rolling out the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs’ feminist foreign policy. To foster occupational equality between men and women and gender parity, the Ministry has made several commitments:

Increasing the number of women in management and ambassador positions.

To find out more, please visit our page on gender equality at the Ministry

Preventing all forms of harassment and violence at work with the creation of a Ministry Support Unit ;

Introducing schemes for improving the work-life balance ;

Being careful to communicate without gender stereotypes and highlight equality issues ;

Lastly, the Ministry requires the 12 agencies with which it oversees on their own or jointly to include gender issues in their strategies and actions.

Updated: March 2024