The established impression of a women in the French society includes household responsibilities such as housekeeping, farm animals, harvesting crops, child rearing and upbringing and preparing meals. During the initiation of the industrial revolution in France, there was a drastic change in women’s role to being domestic helpers, washerwomen and factory workers. By 1944, the role of women became more prominent in France by acquiring the rights to vote. In 1960s, the woman gained the right to work without getting their husband’s consent and were able to open their own personal bank accounts.
Women’s status changed drastically from doing domestic duties to being involved in the French parliament and many more. Before the 19th century, between 1793 and 1794, 8000 women were estimated to have assisted in the army. In the 19th century, during 1874, France allowed the first trade union open to women. In 1895, women were qualified as administrators of public charity boards and by 1898 they were accepted as administrators of commercial boards and mutual aid societies. Few women were capable of holding public offices in 1930s. Léon Blum, the Prime Minister during 1936, included 3 women in the Popular Front government. By 1965, married women owned the rights to work independently without the husband’s consent. The president during 1974, nominated 9 women between 1974 and 1981 in his government and after the election of a socialist candidate in 1981, a French Politian, Yvette Roudy, passed the 1983 law against sexism.
Women’s economic empowerment is broadly recognized as one of the most effective means of catalyzing positive social transformation in favor of gender equality. Empowering women in a country would lead to a tremendous decrease in dependence rates, reduction in VAW (Violence Against Women), a raised household income which leads to increasing household purchasing power which contributes to an enhanced standard of living adding on the taxes that the government of the country collects. Investing in this empowerment also sets a direct path towards poverty eradication and inclusive economic growth. So, the empowering of women economically will surely lead to the country’s development.
The French President, Emmanuel Macron, has elected approximately same number of women candidates for the legislative assembly elections. Furthermore, alongside Bulgaria and Nicaragua, France ranks first in the world for the highest proportion of women in ministerial positions which is more than 52% according to UN women data. A wide range of international commitments support women’s economic empowerment including a series of International Labor Organization conventions on gender equality and many more. The UN women are working to promote women’s ability to secure decent jobs, influence institutions and accumulate assets.
France is developing different strategies to empower women in the economy, employability and their leadership in various ways. France’s Gender and Development Strategy makes policy on women’s rights a central pillar. They set an aim for at least 50% projects financed to reduce the gender inequalities by 2017. Legislative measures have been taken to guarantee gender equality in politics and at work. The June 2000 gender equality act enhanced the female representation in politics.
France began an Interministerial Plan for Gender Equality in workplace were company boards had become more female, which increased by 5.7% from 2012 to 2014. The Executive Director of UN women welcomed the launch of UN Women National Committee in France which alongside other National Committees will aid to campaign and defend for gender equality and empowerment of women. The Chair of the UN Women National Committee in France, addressed that the first priority will be to communicate about UN Women National Committee in France and its territories. The Committee will raise awareness and support on gender equality for the French population. She also clarified that their Committee will defend issues related to human rights of women, such as participation and leadership women in social, political and economic spheres. Last but not least, the SDFE, Department of women’s rights and equality main aim is to make existing gender equality policies as efficient as possible including, women’s access to decision making in politics, economy and third sector. It is also involved in promoting women’s rights in France and it promotes equality between men and women in professional environment.