For women’s rights and gender equality, the State must spend time and energy to change people’s minds

Najat Vallaud Belkacem

Najat Vallaud Belkacem’s first position in government was as Minister of Women’s Rights, in Francois Hollande’s administration.  She became only the second Minister of Women’s Rights ever in France. The first, Yvette Roudy, served under President Mitterrand in the 1980s. Najat Vallaud Belkacem became the first woman Minister of National Education, her current position. We met her in her office to discuss what has to be defended and improved in the realm of gender equality and women’s rights in this period of electoral uncertainty.

As Minister of Women’s Rights and Gender Equality, her actions were marked by her commitment to collective work with women’s groups and associations, prodding legislators into enacting laws for the furtherance of women’s rights and gender equality. Under her administration, legislation against sexual harassment, in favor of additional protection for women victims of violence, and to make abortion and contraception completely free was passed. Protection for abortion centers has been reinforced. She asserted that “abortion is a right in itself and not something dependent on conditions.” She also worked for legislation to reinforce the notion of education of gender equality starting in “maternelle” (pre-kindergarten, a public school in France). She accomplished much despite a meager budget. The politics of austerity also hindered access to public services such as abortion centers. In the deleterious political climate with the rise of the extreme right, she also faced racist slurs. Nonetheless, she secured important headways for women.

Sincere and relentless political engagement became her way of action for gender equality and women’s rights. Her message for us is that, to secure women’s rights and gender equality, the State must spend time and energy to change people’s minds. Here’s our interview:


(Photo Credit 1: Mounir Belhidaoui/RespectMag) (Photo Credit 2: Phototèque Rouge/Marc Paris/ RespectMag)

Myriam El-Khomri, one more woman in the French government

The appointment by President Hollande and Prime Minister Manuel Valls of Myriam El-Khomri as Minister of Labor came as a surprise. The position became vacant when the former minister left to become mayor of Dijon, a medium sized French city. The presumed good candidates for the position were all men.

With this appointment nine of the sixteen senior ministers are women, a precedent in French politics certainly.

Myriam El-Khomri, who had been in the Paris council and worked closely with Anne Hidalgo, the current mayor of Paris, made her way working on urban policies. She was elected in the vibrant XVIII district that regroups Montmartre, the tourist attraction, and la Goutte D’Or, where over 30% of the population is of West African and North African descent. She was praised for her sense of dialogue, enabling urban and social improvements in this district. She carried this expertise to her next employment as State Secretary to the Minister for Urban Affairs, which she held until now. She clearly opposed ghettoisation and supported programs to promote social diversity.

Why was she appointed in this rather liberal socialist government? Surely, sending an image of progressive young government is part of the strategy as this government is contested on its left. Then, she is going to be in charge of preparing the next social roundtable between the unions and an unfettered business/corporation leadership. With the strong hand of Manuel Valls on his ministers, she will need a lot of diplomacy if she wants to remain true to her belief that employment policies have to be approached from fairer urban public politics angle.

In addition, Manuel Valls and President Hollande have already expressed their desire to “simplify” the labor code, and that is what scares the unions. France has rather good social and labor protection compared to many other European countries that have seen their labor regulations crumbling. What will be her role in these contradictory discourses? On one hand, drastically cutting public spending and on the other one, pretending that public services and social programs will be maintained, even improved, as neoliberal policies in France like anywhere else generate increased inequalities.

Lastly and remarkably, since the Prime Minister Manuel Valls, who was born Spanish, took office, he has promoted two women who were born in Morocco. Najat Vallaud-Belkacem left the Ministry of Gender Equality to become the Minister of National Education, Higher Education and Research and now Myriam El-Khomri. He declared that these two women represent diversity, the reality and the strength of France. Although this appointment is encouraging, it is definitely not enough to strongly establish that diversity is the reality and strength of France.

Wouldn’t it be a good move to change asylum policies, as 75% of asylum demands are denied annually?

(Photo Credit: Alain Guilhot / Le Monde)

Najat Vallaud-Belkacem fighting racism and sexism in France for real equality


Najat Vallaud-Belkacem

Not long ago, Najat Vallaud-Belkacem, then the French Minister of Women’s Rights, introduced and successfully defended a bill entitled “For Real Equality Between Women and Men.” This bill supported the normalization of parity. After the recent reshuffle of the government, Vallaud-Belkacem has become France’s Education Minister. This position is the fourth most important in the ranking of ministers in France. She is also the first woman to hold this major ministry.

Her nomination could have been a sign that something was working toward real parity in the highest political representation in France, but alas no. Immediately after her nomination, Vallaud-Belkacacem was targeted in right wing magazines by sexist and xenophobic attacks. These attacks used her dual Moroccan and French citizenship, her Muslim origin, her youth (she is 36), her sex, her support for same sex marriage, her support for the inclusion of gender theory in regular primary and secondary education, and, finally, her active feminist support for women’s rights.

Valeurs Actuelles, a magazine that the former president Nicolas Sarkozy uses regularly to make statements about his eventual return to politics, staged her as “the Ayatollah” on its front page, with an edited photo that accentuates the darkness of her eyes, making the portrait loaded with negative representations of Islam. The subtitle uses play on words to suggest that she is going redesign the National Education system. The title of another magazine “Minute” does the rest: “A Moroccan Muslim at the National Education, the Najat Vallaud Belkacem provocation.”

None of these displays of hatred is new. The latest was Christiane Taubira, the Minister of Justice, whose origins and skin color sparked off racist and sexist slurs. Both women epitomize the fight against all inequality, including gender, ethnic and social inequality. Christiane Taubira reacted and wrote to her colleague in a tweet, “They must have nothing in their heads, be empty in their heart, and have hardened souls. Najat, you’re flying high with our ambitions for schools. Thanks.”

Meanwhile, the line between right and extreme right becomes increasingly blurred. In a tweet by a right wing city counselor of Neuilly sur Seine, Najat Vallaud-Belkacem was accused of using her femininity, also called “skirt promotion”, to access this position. The counselor, of course, added a suggestive picture. Another right wing enclase, the city of Puteaux, in a charity effort to support families with children returning to school, distributed strong blue backpacks to boys and strong pink one to girls, making clear the separation in colors and roles of girls and boys in a binary society.

“Najat Vallaud-Belkacem is the ideal target for all those who would like to distill the idea that an immigrant woman could not legitimately be part of a government” says SOS Racism, an association that denounces all sorts of racism. These attacks go beyond that. They exploit the old demon of colonial countries to block advances in women’s rights and human rights and to achieve various goals: controlling the population at large, curtail all debates, policing the whole of the neoliberal environment.

When Najat Vallaud-Belkacem was Minister of Women’s Rights, she declared that we needed to be politically proactive to address gender inequalities. She was right about that. When she said that gender, class, ethnicity are the bases of inequality and that hatred is the way “to emptied hearts and hardened souls” where inequalities grow, she was right again.



(Photo Credit:

From Paris to Washington, all women need easy access to real help in times of crisis

Recently, former President of George Washington University, Stephen Joel Trachtenberg suggested that violence against women on university campuses in the United States could be reduced if only women were trained not to drink in excess. He added that we need to educate “our daughters and our children” who drink too much.

At least, with these recommendations, women will remain sober while being subjected to violence? This type of comment is too often accepted in public spaces, such as NPR where it was expressed. As long as discriminatory comments and acts are still presented as primitive solutions, violence against women will persist.

Women need easy access to real help in times of crisis. Women also need society as a whole to stop discriminating against them, making us ever more susceptible to acts of violence.

In France, a recent bill, For a Real Equality Between Women and Men, takes on violence against women in its multifaceted approach to create conditions for more equality. The bill offers other methods to address this issue. Some are for immediate relief for women. Others offer a long-term approach to make violence against women clearly and unequivocally unacceptable.

The distribution of the free personal cell telephone “grand danger” (emergency phone) to women who are at risk of domestic violence is inscribed in the new law. This measure has been initiated by Najat Vallaud-Belkacem, who presented the bill to Parliament in coordination with Christiane Taubira (Minister of Justice) and Bernard Cazeneuve (Minister of the Interior in charge of police).

The cell phone is connected to a call center where trained people may activate a police intervention, which should be effective within ten minutes, according to Najat Vallaud-Belkacem. A woman who feels threatened presses three times on the bottom of the phone to be connected to the call center. Other numbers are pre-registered in the phone to give access to associations that provide psychological support to women who may just need to talk.

The phone is given for six months, renewable, to women whose former companions have been issued a no contact order by the court. With the phone comes psychological support to reduce the feeling of isolation that domestic threat produces.

This system is already widely used in Spain.

After four years of trial in various areas in France, the phone “grand danger”, according to Christiane Taubira, has been a clear success. It has saved lives and has helped women to break the cycle of violence and isolation. In fact, the phone seems to give women a sense of security. According to the Public Prosecutor of the Republic of Paris, the great majority of women call just to make sure that the phone is working; only 10% of the calls are for actual emergencies.

This method is now part of a national plan of action to reduce violence against women and will be accessible to women in the entire French territories including the DOM TOM (French overseas departments and territories). However, as Christiane Tuabira made clear, it is not a gadget. It is there to stop the cycle of sexual and domestic violence and provide preventative and timely assistance to women who are the victims of such violence. This device is part of a larger set of actions. The goal, said Christiane Taubira and Najat Vallaud-Belkacem, is to reduce the level of acceptability of violence against women in society in order have fewer “grand danger” phones.

Let’s extend this goal to the United States and stand up against comments, such as those of Stephen Joel Trachenberg, that show the pervasiveness in ordinary language of discrimination against women, making us more vulnerable to violence. There’s a petition that offers one of the numerous actions to change the level of discussion. You can find it, and sign it, here.

Please sign and share the petition. Every effort counts!


(Image Credit: Najat Vallaud-Belkacem)

In France, for the real equality between women and men

Najat Vallaud-Belkacem, France’s minister for women’s rights

On July 23, 2014, the French Parliament passed a bill entitled “for the real equality between women and men.” The bill covers nine fields of societal life and avoids the pitfall of opposing private and public life that has always kept women invisible. Najat Vallaud-Belkacem, France’s Minister for Women’s Rights who introduced the bill, explained, “Because inequalities are everywhere, we’re having to act everywhere.”

Here is a quick summary of the nine parts that address parity and professional equality as well as precariousness and violence.

* Pregnancy and employment.

Women already enjoy maternity leave from 6 months for the first child to a possible 3 years after the second child. With the bill there will be an additional 6 months for paternity leave. Jobs will be guaranteed during maternity and paternity leaves. Today only 3.3% of fathers take some kind of parental leave. Commonly, men argue that they don’t want to suffer career consequences in taking parental leave. This law may help reverse this trend by first forcing paternity leave and reducing the impact of parental leave on parent’s career. However, the financial compensation is still meager compared to what is given in countries like Sweden where 90% of fathers take their parental leave, but it is a start.

*Professional equality.

Women are paid an average of 25% less than men for equal qualifications and have a harder time finding jobs that are labeled masculine. A broad range of measures in the bill address this issue, from subsidies to penalties for companies, public administrations, etc. In addition, a campaign has been launched in order to support jobs’ desegregation and fight gender stereotypes that affect women’s education. According to France’s Department of Labor, in order to have professional parity, 52% of the workers should change jobs. Studies suggest that in 60% of the cases educational segregation is responsible for discrepancies. Although in France women hold more degrees than men, they are more under employed.

*Breaking the glass ceiling to support access to decision-making position in public administration and companies for women.

Starting in 2017, there will be mandatory 40% women candidates to positions of executive manager in the public sector.

*Protection of single mothers.

For single mothers who don’t receive regular child support from the father of their children, a public trust will be granted to women to protect them from financial loss while measures to recover child support will be taken.

*Protection of women against domestic violence.

Women who are victim of domestic violence will have full protection, and their violent “partners” will be removed immediately. The bill reinforces the anti-abuse laws in the military and at university. It also provides better protection for immigrant. The law provides a wider array of possibilities for the sentencing of perpetrators of domestic violence to avoid repeat offences, with more education programs. The bill ensures nationwide of the very successful free emergency hotline.

*Better access to information on abortion.

The bill changes the language of the abortion law from a situation of distress to not pursuing an unwanted pregnancy. It also reinforces protections against anti abortion activists.

*Act against gender stereotypes.

France’s media regulator CSA will now have the authority to assure that women are not diminished with sexist statements or degrading representation. This measure will include sensibility training for journalists.

*Addressing hyper-sexualization of girls.

Beauty contests for children under the age of 13 are banned, and authorization is needed between the age of 13 and 16.

*Political representation

The bill increases fines for political parties that do not meet equal representation objectives. In 2012 with 40% of women candidates to the National Assembly, only 26.9% were elected.

All these measures tackle the various reasons that keep women in precarious positions. They also work on language and symbols as patriarchal references. For instance, the bill removed some gender-loaded language, such as “the good family man”, from the Civil Code. It also works on societal symbols, equaling marriage and civil union.

These measures are a start and were long due. Still, as Vallaud Belkacem declared, “I don’t believe that history is going to spontaneously take us forward, so going towards more equality needs us to be politically proactive.” Meanwhile, the French government barely respects the bill’s call for parity since men hold the all main ministries.

The opposition to the bill was small. However groups that have a conservative vision of family and nation argue that women should keep their role and it will cost too much to the state to support these changes. This type of opposition reveals once again that the unpaid, unrecognized work of women has been sustaining the civil society at the cost of women’s rights and well-being.

After all, at the time of the French revolution, the French Revolutionary Congress did not include women as citizens in its Declaration of Rights, the Declaration of Rights of Man. Instead it sent revolutionary women to the guillotine and banned women from debating men as equals.

Two centuries and a half later the Parliament finally showed signs of change. Clearly, Najat Vallaud-Belkacem is right. We need proactive political actions to address gender inequalities , and we need to remember that class and ethnic inequalities are linked to gender inequalities and must be addressed politically.


(Photo Credit: RFI / Reuters / Jacky Naegelen)

From France, more than a bill, an act of resistance for women’s rights

Something important happened in the French parliament on Tuesday, January 21. After two hours of tumultuous debate, the National Assembly voted on two amendments to the abortion bill.

One, that triggered the most controversy, was a change in language in the Veil Law, passed in 1975. The initial law stated, “a pregnant woman whose conditions puts her in a situation of distress has the right to terminate pregnancy”. The amendment changed that to “all women should be allowed to choose whether or not to continue with their pregnancy.”

The second amendment further penalized the offense of obstruction, making any obstruction to information about abortion and reproductive rights a crime.

The debate occurred only two days after a demonstration organized by pro-life groups in Paris. This event gathered about 16000 people coming from the same groups that opposed the marriage for all bill passed in 2013.

These two amendments were part of a bill for equality between men and women that also passed both chambers. This bill had been in preparation since Najat Vallaud Belkacem has been nominated the Minister of Gender Equality. The objective is to create conditions for more equality between men and women in many areas of their lives, including wage equality, parental leave for fathers, stronger child support mechanisms, protection of single mothers, protection of women against all sorts of violence, with additional protection for abused undocumented women migrants, and protection of reproductive rights especially access to abortion. The bill is strong and contains enforcement power, a rare situation for bills about women’s rights.

The message was strong, especially after a series of setbacks for women’s rights in the world and notably in Europe. In fact, the bill also symbolized a strong affirmation that “abortion is a right in itself and not something dependent on conditions,” as Najat Vallaud-Belkacem noted. The specter of recent proposals against women’s reproductive rights in Spain was present as Axelle Lemaire a sponsor of the bill said, “Should we be in fear and live in a French centric world and not reach out to Spanish women who risk seeing a historical regression of their rights?”

The Spanish bill that outrages the Spanish population with 81 % against it, could basically make access to abortion almost impossible. For more fortunate Spanish women, there will always be the possibility to travel to neighboring France.

Reproductive rights that were once recognized have been under attack in Europe. The recent debate at the European parliament over the Estrela Report on sexual and reproductive health rights has shown the divide more clearly. The report was rejected over faulty simultaneous interpretation that misled supporters of the report. Nonetheless, Estele Estrela, the author of the report, declared: “It’s shameful that in 2013, the European Parliament adopted a more conservative resolution than the previous text on this issue, adopted in 2002.”

In February, a vote will take place in Switzerland to determine whether abortion will continue to be reimbursed, as is now the case in Austria. Hungary has already closed the last clinic to offer access to RU486. And we could add the dismal state of reproductive rights in the United States to the list.

At a time when women’s rights reduction and economic oppression are happening concomitantly, the bill that passed in France carries an important message that goes beyond French politics. This is a bill of hope for a stronger solidarity in support of women’s rights and human dignity. In fact women are not distressed they have rights!


(Photo Credit: THOMAS SAMSON via Getty Images)

A right is a right: women have the right to contraception and abortion

The role of a government is to inform the population of its rights said Najat Vallaud-Belkacem, France’s Minister of Women’s Rights and Gender Equality, to a gathering at the Planning Familial center in Paris. Vallaud-Belkacem was there to unveil the new government information website on abortion. Since the passage of the Simone Veil bill in 1975, abortion has been a right in France.

Nonetheless, many in France, noting the shattering of reproductive rights in many countries throughout the world, don’t want to take any risk. Without much increase in their numbers, the anti IVG (anti abortion), as they are called in France, has managed to occupy a disproportionately large chunk of cyber space, by using deceptive sites that simulate abortion right sites. These sites mislead women in search of information concerning abortion procedures. They try to make women feel guilty as they spread rumors about the danger of abortion.

Isabelle Louis, the president of Planning Familial for Paris and its region, hosted Najat Vallaud-Belkacem.  Although only a few journalists showed up, Louis said, “the event went well. The Minister appreciates the work that we at Planning Familial do in support of women’s rights and she was clearly comfortable. At the same time, she delivered a crucial message for us, that is to say that abortion is not a service to women, it is a right; and that it was important to assert that this right is fully supported by the government.”

Control of the body is critical for women to fully participate in the society. Isabelle Louis emphasized that contraception and abortion are a real means of emancipation for women. She added, “In contrast, what tires me  a great deal are the journalists’ questions. Instead of problematizing this issue, they only carry out the discourse of the anti-IVG (anti-abortion) with stupid questions asking if this website is going to encourage abortion. It is worrisome to see that we are in a society that does not allow itself to think and reflect but is just good at peddling ideas as if they were equivalent. As if the ideological words of the anti (anti abortion groups) were equivalent to a state that affirms the rights of women.”

Every journalist present at the event asked that question, including journalists from leftist newspapers. Isabelle Louis reminded them that “women are not stupid. If they go to this site, it is because they want information about abortion. We must stop thinking that women are completely bewildered by what is happening to them.” Moreover, the woman who had written to the Minister to complain about the deceptive websites was present. Her alerts pushed the Minister to take action to clarify the situation. As the Minister explained, she does not want to encourage anything. Rather, the role of a government is to inform people of their rights. The Minister’s message was clear; she relocated the question of abortion and reproductive rights in its proper context: public rights and public service.

The control of the woman’s body is key to women’s full participation in the world. In the United States, Senator Elizabeth Warren recently denounced the blackmailing by Republicans who want to “change the law so that employers can deny women access to birth control coverage. In fact letting employers decide for the women if they can get birth control covered on their insurance plan is so important that the Republicans are willing to shut down the government.” At a time when the right to an abortion is threatened and denied in many states, we wish that reproductive rights would appear as a moral and governmental responsibility rather than as a political game.

The French Minister of Women’s Rights and Gender Equality is rightly defending those rights. A right is a right: women have the right to contraception and abortion.

(Written by Brigitte Marti, with Isabelle Louis, the President of Planning Familial Paris and its region)

Twenty years after Cairo, women’s rights are reduced around the world

Almost 20 years ago, the Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) took place in Cairo (1994). ICPD, also called the Cairo Consensus, declared women’s reproductive and health rights as fundamental to the well being of women and to the full political and economical participation of women.

In Paris last week, Medecins du Monde (Doctors of the World), Planning Familial and Equilibres et populations hosted a briefing, titled: “Access to contraception, unwanted pregnancies and unsafe abortions:  the state of reproductive rights and health in the global South.” The briefing panel consisted of Margarita Gonzales and Catherine Giboin, both of Medecins du Monde; Serge Sabier, from Equilibres et Populations; Lise Marie Dejean from Solidarité Fanm Ayisyen, SOFA, a Haitian feminist organization; and Véronique Séhier, of French Family Planning. They all agreed that the global conservative turn has had tremendous and destructive consequences for women. Serge Sabier, who participated in the drafting of the Cairo resolutions, said that today it would be impossible to get 172 countries to agree to sign such a document.

Véronique Séhier added that these rights are still not considered fundamental. The goals have not been reached. For young women, access to reproductive health services, and to education and education about sexuality in particular, is limited. In many regions, and not only in the South, contraceptives are difficult to obtain or unavailable. Meanwhile, many countries oppose the right to abortion. In Europe, three countries officially deny access to abortion services, thereby defying European law.  Séhier insisted that no dissociation should be made between contraception and abortion; access to both is a fundamental right.

Catherine Giboin reminded the audience that data on reproductive health were almost non-existent until 1985. She then shared some data to show that evidence is not enough to have sound politics to support women’s rights. One fourth of women in the world have no access to contraceptives. In 2012, 73% of the women who did not receive the contraceptives they needed were in the poorest countries. About 40% of the pregnancies in the world are unwanted, and this rate climbs to about 60% in Latin America and the Caribbean. One out of ten births occur with girls between the age of 15 and 19. The ratio of unsafe abortions has increased from 44% in 1995 to 49% in 2008; 98% of unsafe abortions are in developing countries. In 2008, 47000 women died as a result of not having access to safe abortion and 8 million had complications. 40% of the world women live in countries that have very restrictive abortion legislations. Chile, Malta, Nicaragua, and El Salvador forbid abortion without exception.

Lise Marie Dejean put these data and numbers in the reality of Haitian women who represent 52% of the country’s population. Haiti’s high maternal mortality and high rate of complications after abortion have to be linked to women’s under-representation and invisibility in Haitian institutions and politics.  Dejean affirmed the crucial role that the colonial and post-colonial patriarchal power has played, reminding the audience that contraceptive pills were tested on Haitian women, who now have little to no access to those very contraceptives. She insisted that women’s reproductive health and women’s health in general, are interdependent with women’s levels and quality of participation, women’s poverty, and rape. As Dejean noted, in Haiti “our body doesn’t belong to us, the patriarchal system has profited from this body to establish places of domination (des lieux de domination).” Across Latin American and the Caribbean, women are organizing to demand that their right to control their body be respected as well as their right to have equal participation in the decisions of their countries.

France’s Minister for Gender Equality, Najat Vallaud-Belkacem, presented the position of her ministry. Although France has some problems of access to abortion services, its situation is still one of the best in the world, with free-of-charge reproductive services, including for undocumented immigrant women. Vallaud-Belkacem insisted on the commitment of France and its diplomacy in asserting women’s rights and also more practically in supporting women’s organizations through its embassies. One NGO representative asked how activists from poor countries who are often poor themselves could have a voice in international instances. Vallaud-Belkacem replied that feminist diplomacy is there to facilitate their travel and to increase the visibility and real participation of those activists in international conferences.

The Minister’s language radically departed from the usual monolithic paternalistic language that often prevails in such meetings. She recognized the difficulties and said that while her action in promoting women’s rights and also participation of feminist organizations has been oriented to francophone countries, she also inscribed that in a broader feminist diplomatic perspective. For example, at the conference des ambassadeurs (ambassador conference) in August 2013, she argued for a new diplomacy for women’s rights. Additionally, according to Vallaud-Belkacem, France is the fourth country in terms of financial aid in the world and 500 million Euros were dedicated between 2012 and 2014 to support reproductive health initiatives around the world.

A member of the Greek’s family planning and the vice president of UNICEF Greek committee then made a striking remark that demonstrated once again that women are the first affected by the neoliberal order, which begets crisis. In Greece, women’s rights registered a major set back when austerity measures privatized public services and gutted the social state. And so now 40% of the population cannot access health services. While abortion remains legal, it now costs too much for many Greek women. The fee for an abortion is about half a minimum monthly wage, and contraceptives are expensive and hard to find. Greece, which had a good health care system, has seen a significant increase in infant mortality.

Greece demonstrates the pervasiveness of the neoliberal order on women’s health and reproductive rights. The current reduction of women’s reproductive rights and health has to be recognized as part of a political and economic order rather than as some unfortunate situation.


(Photo and Video Credit: Daily Motion)

Resistances, les femmes, le pouvoir et l’élection

Les électeurs français viennent d’élire un président socialiste, François Hollande. Il a été investi dans ses fonctions le 15 mai dernier et un nouveau gouvernement a été formé dans la foulée. Le changement est de taille pour beaucoup et une source d’espoir pour les femmes et les minorités. Ainsi le nouveau président avait affirmé qu’il appliquerait le principe de parité entre hommes et femmes pour former sa nouvelle équipe ministérielle. Il a pour ainsi dire réussi, 34 ministres dont 17 femmes. Il y a eu passation de pouvoir et à la suite du premier conseil des ministres il y a eu séance de photos et en particulier une photo du président et du premier ministre (Jean-Marc Ayrault) avec les femmes ministres de la parité. « Pourquoi une photo avec les seules femmes ministres?» demande la présidente de l’association des femmes journalistes, Isabelle Germain.

Est-ce un trophée ? Isabelle Germain ajoute qu’il n’y a pas eu de photos avec les hommes, ou les ministres issus de la diversité, elle en conclut que le concept de diversité est plus accepté que la parité politique entre hommes et femmes. Bien que cette décision doive être applaudie, il faut remarquer que la parité joue sur le nombre et non sur l’importance des postes de ministres, et il faut ajouter qu’il n’y a pas de parité parmi les conseillers du président et du premier ministre, comme le déplore Osez le Féminisme.

Toutefois image de progrès, la nomination de Christiane Taubira comme garde des Sceaux (ministre de la justice). D’abord cette nomination rappelle  l’histoire coloniale de la France, en effet, Christiane Taubira, est sénatrice » de Guyane. Elle représente les populations des caraïbes et a commencé sa carrière comme activiste indépendantiste de la Guyane.

Une de ses premières remarques qui mènera à une action rapide concerne la justice des mineurs. Elle a clairement indiquée que l’ère Sarkozy était terminée. Plus question de juger les délinquants récidivistes de 16 ou 17 ans dans des tribunaux correctionnels ordinaires, c’est à dire comme des adultes, cette mesure venait directement de l’exemple américain. Les mineurs seront de nouveau jugés comme des jeunes, ce qui veut dire pas d’incarcération dans les prisons des adultes et plus de programmes d’accompagnement. Bien sur l’ancienne ministre Rachida Dati (UMP) a immédiatement critiqué cette décision la qualifiant  d’ “acte irresponsable”. Rappelons que l’argument de dissuasion avancé en faveur du jugement des mineurs comme adulte, bien connu aux Etats Unis, s’est toujours avéré  erroné. Il est remarquable que Rachida Dati ministre de Sarkozy, elle aussi représentait l’intégration puisqu’elle est issue de l’immigration. Son approche était bien différente de celle de ces nouveaux ministres.

Cela nous mène à la nomination de la ministre des droits de la femme. Ce ministère avait purement et simplement été supprimé par le gouvernement précédent. Il avait été créé par le dernier président socialiste, en 1981 et avait eu un effet bénéfique pour les droits des femmes en France.  La nouvelle nommée Najat Vallaud-Belkacem est née au Maroc de parents marocains, elle refuse la comparaison avec Rachida Dati (elle aussi d’origine nord africaine). Najat Vallaud-Belkacem a aussi montré que les identités peuvent être multiples puisqu’elle a siégé au Conseil de la communauté marocaine à l’étranger (CCME) jusqu’à ce qu’elle s’engage avec François Hollande.  Beaucoup de travail à venir pour elle, notamment avec la loi sur le harcèlement sexuel qui a été invalidée par le Conseil Constitutionnel  récemment, créant ainsi un problème juridique pour les femmes voulant intenter une action en justice. Cette loi doit être repensée et surtout doit apporter une protection nécessaire aux femmes qui sont en France comme ailleurs de plus en plus victimes de violence.

Il est clair qu’après une campagne présidentielle menée par Nicolas Sarkozy sur le thème de la peur de l’étranger et de l’immigration, la formation de ce gouvernement montre une claire démarcation de la ligne ultra de Sarkozy, celui-ci n’avait pas hésité à remettre en cause la laïcité tout en utilisant la peur de la religiosité musulmane comme raison, alors qu’il prônait le retour a la morale chrétienne comme référence. Le débat s’éloignait de la nécessaire remise en cause de la colonisation dans ce moment où la mondialisation néolibérale représente une nouvelle forme de colonisation.

Dans ces temps qui révèlent les effets de l’organisation financière de la mondialisation néolibérale sur la société toute entière et avec les renégociations des accords européens pour instaurer les politiques économiques d’austérité destinées à mettre à genou les populations, le changement, si petit qu’il soit, venu de cette élection est une source d’espoir qu’il ne faut pas laisser échapper.


(Photo Credit: Reuters / Guillaume Paumier, Joëlle Dollé)