Gender equality is a priority for the French government. The French Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs (MEAE) spearheads 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 from inequality reduction to sustainable development, peace and security, defence and promotion of fundamental rights, and climate and economic issues.
At national level, France has also committed to ensuring that 50% of its official development assistance is attributed – through the Agence Française de Développement – to projects with gender equality as a significant or main objective.
The MEAE must set an example for feminist foreign policy. The Ministry has a pro-active policy to promote gender equality internally.
The key focuses of France’s feminist foreign policy are set out in France’s international strategy for gender equality (2018-2022) .
"France wishes to support the emancipation of women around the world by fighting sexual violence and fighting for equality in the workplace and girls’ education… Furthering this feminist foreign policy worldwide means fighting for equality between men and women everywhere."
Joint article by Jean-Yves Le Drian and Marlène Schiappa / 8 March 2019
Still today, women and girls are often more affected by poverty, conflict and climate change than men. They face difficulties and discriminations, in every field and every country.
France considers women, as well as men, to be actors for sustainable development and the correct functioning of societies or – for post-crisis countries – for reconstruction. Their representation in all decision-making forums must be promoted.
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 are a priority for France.
The year 2020 marks the 25th anniversary of the 4th World Conference on Women which was held in Beijing in 1995 and the adoption of the Beijing Platform for Action.
France, together with its co-chair Mexico, will host the Generation Equality Forum organized by UN Women. All participants, within coalitions of States, civil society and the private sector, will be invited to make commitments to drive women’s rights and make it the great global cause by 2025 or 2030. Initially scheduled to be held in July, theForum was postponed due to the coronavirus health crisis.
The Biarritz Summit (August 2019) was an opportunity to mobilize the G7 countries to make new commitments. Based on the proposals of the G7 Gender Equality Advisory Council, the G7 heads of State and government launched the Biarritz Partnership, an international coalition bringing together G7 Member States and open to other countries determined to fight gender inequality by adopting a progressive legislative framework.
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.
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 actively contributed to the adoption and the implementation of the Security Council resolutions on Women, Peace and Security, which call for States to strengthen the protection of women and girls during conflicts and increase the participation of women in peace negotiations and decision-making processes. Since 2010, France has adopted two 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.
The International Fund for Survivors of Conflict-Related Sexual Violence builds on the work of Dr Denis Mukwege and Nadia Murad. The goal is to enable survivors of conflict-related sexual violence to have access to compensation and reparations and to help them to reintegrate society. Dr Denis Mukwege and Nadia Murad lead the initiative in close collaboration and consultation with other public-sector, private-sector 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 Islamic State on her home 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”.
An exemplary ministry
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
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 taken several commitments:
> increasing the number of women in management and ambassador positions.
26% of France’s ambassadors are women (compared to 11% in 2012). 25% of directors and heads of department are women (compared to 22% in 2012).
> preventing all forms of bullying and workplace violence including the creation of a listening service.
> implementing means enabling a better work/life balance.
> paying close attention to ensure communications do not include gender stereotypes and promote equality-related issues.
Lastly, the Ministry requires the 12 agencies with which it oversees solely or jointly to include gender issues in their strategies and actions.
* 2018 Figures