Gender equality at the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs


Gender equality is the “great national cause” of President Macron’s term. At the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs, the issue of gender equality is being addressed at two levels: internally, to improve occupational equality, and externally, under France’s foreign policy.

These two major, mutually supportive areas of work are described in France’s international strategy for gender equality (2018-2022). Agnès von der Mühll, Senior Official for equality of rights between men and women, spurs on, coordinates and manages the work of the Ministry’s various departments in support of equality in these two fields.

A proactive policy within the Ministry to foster occupational equality

The aim is to tend towards occupational equality in every field, including career progression, appointments, combating discrimination and training. The Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs has established a whole spectrum of measures to foster a work/life balance, provide support in geographical mobility and combat sexist behaviour.

The AFNOR label that was granted to the Ministry on 23 October 2017 acknowledges these efforts and confirms a long-term approach. The approach is monitored through 37 binding indicators subject to periodic evaluation, including:

  • Flexible working conditions;
  • Parity in recruitment panels;
  • Replacement during maternity leave;
  • Training and outreach on professional equality;
  • Development of home working at the central administration.

Improving internal practices on occupational equality and parity

Parity in figures

Half of the permanent staff of the Ministry are women.

In 2020, 28.6% of France’s ambassadors are women (compared to 27% in 2019 but only 11% in 2012). 26% of managerial and leadership positions were held by women (compared to 29% in 2019 but only 22% in 2012).

Across all managerial positions, the rate of women appointed for the first time, however, continues to grow: it reached 40% of women as heads of department and deputy directors (for a stock of 27% at sub-directorate level), and 32% for women ambassadors and directors of central administration.

10 women were appointed consul general in 2020, out of 22 appointments, or 45.5% (with a stock of women consul general of 31%).

Improving occupational equality also means highlighting issues in institutional communication and adopting appropriate policies such as:

  • Preventing and combating sexist behaviour and sexual violence through outreach campaigns and the creation of a support unit;
  • Creating a support unit for preventing and combating discrimination;
  • Continuing and strengthening arrangements for a better work/life balance.

While these policies obviously concern all staff, in reality they benefit women first and foremost.

Moving from outreach to training and support for staff

Outreach activities on gender equality are organized for all new staff at the Ministry and those preparing for expatriation. This “initial training” is topped up through intranet modules for staff already working at the Ministry.

Longer and more specialized training activities are also organized for staff who are to work on gender issues internationally as part of their role and those in positions of responsibility.

Strengthening the network of gender equality contact and focal points

As of 2019, the network of gender equality contact points within the Ministry is made up of 170 people. This network is responsible for coordination between the central administration and the Ministry’s network as regards gender equality.

Contact points are tasked with holding dialogue with local partners, monitoring the theme of equality and communicating on French policy and the Ministry’s international strategy.

Updated: February 2021

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