• France edition
 
Ten things to know...
Ten things to know about France's new equality law
France's Minister for Women's rights Najat Vallaud-Belkacem (left) is backing a major proposal to improve gender equality. Photo: Pierre Verdy/AFP.

Ten things to know about France's new equality law

Published: 21 Jan 2014 14:55 GMT+01:00
Updated: 21 Jan 2014 14:55 GMT+01:00

France's parliament began debating on Monday a sweeping set of new laws that aim to make up for disparities between men and women at home, work and in the media and politics.
 
The string of proposals would rewrite France's abortion laws and would change the composition of the decision-making bodies of publicly-owned business as well as push fathers to be more involved with their children and, most controversially, change the law to make it easier for women to get an abortion.
 
Claire Serre-Combe, activist with the women's rights group Osez Le Féminisme, said the law addresses all the fronts of inequality between the sexes. The law, which she expects will pass, will serve as a force for change, she says.
 
"We know it's a change that will take time. Look for example at the Nordic countries like Sweden," she said.  "There came a time when political leaders approved tough laws. It provoked a move towards equality and changed people's thinking on the issue."
 
Here are ten key points from France's equality bill:
  • Women in the media: France’s national media regulator and censor CSA would be in charge of making sure women are represented well in the media. It could crack down on sexist statements and the broadcasting of degrading images of women. Journalism students would also undergo sensitivity training on these issues during their education. No such protections exist in the United States or the UK.
  • Abortion: The proposed law would allow French women to abort if they didn’t wish to pursue a pregnancy, rather than being forced to prove that having child would put them in a “situation of distress”, as the law currently requires. The legislation would also punish anyone who tries to stop women from getting information about abortion. The US has no such requirements for abortion, though rules vary from state to state. UK law, similar to France, requires doctors to OK an abortion.
  • Decision making: The proposal would force political parties, sports organizations and big business to include a larger portion of women in their management or decision-making bodies. For example, the governing bodies of sports organizations would need to be 40 percent female. Failure to comply could cost them their accreditation. Publicly-owned industries like Banque de France, would need to have an equal number of men and women on their decision-making boards. 
  • Parental leave: Under the proposed law, fathers would get workplace rights similar to mothers. For example, they couldn’t be fired within four weeks of the birth of a new child. Future fathers would also have the right to three days off to accompany their child’s mother to mandatory ultrasound doctor’s visits. 
  • Child support: France would make up the difference on any unmade alimony/maintenance payments and would then try to recover the money from the parent who has not met his obligations. About 40 percent of French mothers are entitled to maintenance but receive it infrequently or not at all. 
  • Beauty contests: Mini-miss beauty contests will be forbidden for under-13s. Anyone who organizes a competition for 13 to 16-year-olds needs authorization from local authorities. Anyone found breaking the law will be subject to a fine of €1,500.

French senators vote to ban child child beauty contests

  • Marriage/PACS: Every employee will be allowed four days off work for a civil marriage, known in France as PACS, and a traditional marriage.
  • In the work place: Companies caught flouting the current laws to promote equality in the work place will be barred from bidding for state contracts.
  • Domestic abuse: The length of protection orders for women who are victims of sexual abuse will be lengthened from four to six months. Emergency phones linked to police stations for women who are victims of domestic violence will also be made available.
  • Politics: In the year 2000 France passed a law forcing all parties to include equal numbers of men and women on party lists for elections. Fines were handed out to those parties who did not meet their targets. The move was credited with helping to increase the number of female lawmakers but the French government now wants more. As part of the new bill the government will increase the fines handed out to political parties who do not meet their objectives for equal representation at the 2017 parliamentary elections.

As long as the law clears its vote in France's General Assembly, it would move to a debate and vote in the Senate. A successful vote would send the law on to President François Hollande, who is expected to give his approval.

Don't miss stories about France, join us on Facebook and Twitter

Joshua Melvin (joshua.melvin@thelocal.com)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Le Pen: France needs to take control of borders
Front National president Marine Le Pen speaks to the press during a visit in the city of Calais, northern France. Photo: Philippe Huguen/AFP

Le Pen: France needs to take control of borders

National Front leader Marine Le Pen visited the northern port city of Calais on Friday where tensions are high as authorities under increasing pressure to control the influx of illegal migrants trying to get to Britain. READ  

Burglar in the buff snared by French police
A burglar in the buff was snared red handed and bare-bottomed by French police this week. Photo: Shutterstock

Burglar in the buff snared by French police

French police were called out to a bizarre incident this week when they received calls from scared residents in villages in central France alerting them to the presence of a burglar who was targeting homes in the buff. READ  

France to bring in Ebola checks 'on all transport'
A passenger arriving at Charles de Gaulle airport is checked for Ebola. Photo: Kenzo Tribouillard/AFP

France to bring in Ebola checks 'on all transport'

French president François Hollande said on Friday that measures to counter the risk of Ebola reaching France will be increased with tests to be carried out on people arriving in France on “all forms of transport”, meaning boats as well as planes. READ  

French military chief: 'It's safe to say we hurt Isis'
France and its allies "hurt" Isis forces in Iraq, French military chief has said. Photo: AFP

French military chief: 'It's safe to say we hurt Isis'

The leader of France's armed forces said his country's military "hurt" Isis forces in a recent raid led by the international coalition battling the extremists in Iraq. READ  

What's on in France
What's on in France: 11 things to do in November
The annual cider festival in Le Sap Normandy, just one of the many things to do in France in November. Photo: JCMayzaud

What's on in France: 11 things to do in November

If you're short of ideas for what to do in France in November, we've gathered together a list of 11 events that are well worth checking out, especially if you're into art, wine, music or just can't wait to get in the Christmas spirit. READ  

Paris: Saudi robbed of €15k cash while dining
Relations between France and Saudi Arabia could soon be strained if Paris thieves are not stopped. Photo: Dominic Faget/AFP

Paris: Saudi robbed of €15k cash while dining

A man working for the Saudi Arabian embassy in Paris had a whopping €15,000 in cash stolen while dining out in the city on Tuesday afternoon. He’s just the latest Saudi national to be targeted by thieves in France. READ  

Budget row: EU asks France for more details
Hollande and his PM Manuel Valls will have to convince Brussels their 2015 budget is in order. Photo: AFP

Budget row: EU asks France for more details

French President Francois Hollande said his country had received an EU Commission letter asking for clarifications over its 2015 budget, which forecasts that France will miss the deficit targets laid by Brussels by a wide margin. READ  

Vigilantes held as clown panic spreads in France
It's no joke. Clown panic is spreading across France. Photo: Shutterstock

Vigilantes held as clown panic spreads in France

Police arrested five armed youths in a town in eastern France this week who were hunting for “aggressive clowns” who were reportedly threatening locals. It’s just the latest incident in France where reports of armed clowns has spread panic. READ  

Mother has four limbs removed after abortion
A French mum had to have four limbs amputated due to complications following an abortion. Photo: Shutterstock

Mother has four limbs removed after abortion

A woman who had an abortion in Bordeaux is suing the medical team that performed the procedure after she ended up having to have partial amputations to both arms and legs. READ  

France and the EU
France to get €1b EU rebate as UK to pay more
France is owed €1 billion by the EU, in contrast to the UK, which has been told to pay €2.1 billion more. Photo: Luc Legay/Flickr

France to get €1b EU rebate as UK to pay more

Struggling France is owed a €1billion rebate from Brussels, it was revealed this week. It hasn’t gone down well on the other side of the English Channel where the UK has been told to hand over an extra €2.1billion. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Gallery
IN PICTURES: Nowhere combines sex and art quite like France
National
Why you should never turn down an invitation to a French wedding
Sport
Discover the route of the 2015 Tour de France. There are a few surprises
Gallery
Ten changes that would make learning French so much easier
Culture
IN PICTURES: 'Glass ship' Vuitton ready to set sail in Paris
International
How a giant 'sex toy' earned an American artist a slap in Paris
National
'Unlike in the US the French don't put the blame on the poor'
Gallery
Cover up and don't be too Latin: French travel warnings for the US
Society
Macholand: The online uprising against sexism in France
Gallery
In pictures: The daily life of the 2,000 migrants in Calais
Culture
Erotic promo video earns the Musée d'Orsay our "Only in France" award
International
'I love the UK, but I could die getting there': Struggles of Calais migrants
National
Seven reasons why everyone should work in a bar in France
National
The cost of expat home comforts: How France compares to Europe
International
Why don't Calais migrants stay in France? The Local went to find out
National
What are the pros and cons of working as an au pair in France?
Society
Is France's generous welfare state about to get a little stingier?
Gallery
Extraordinary images of ordinary life in the poor Paris suburbs
Gallery
10 things expats love and loathe about life in France
National
So why don't many women in France breastfeed?
National
'Stop bashing La Belle France' - French PM tells UK press
International
UK warns Brits of 'high threat' from terrorism' in France
National
VIDEO: 'The Kama Sutra is not a dirty little text'
National
What Rome could teach Paris and vice versa
Gallery
What do foreign countries warn their citizens about when visiting France?
Gallery
IN IMAGES: Eiffel Tower opens new glass floor above Paris
Society
Is it really better to grow old in the UK and the US rather than France?
Gallery
It's that time if the year again: French sportsmen reveal (almost) all
Gallery
So what do the French find really weird about Anglos?
Travel
Paris museums to open seven days a week but unions are not happy
Culture
Caption contest: What happened when Jay Z met Sark O?
International
This explains why the French never seem to get a sense of déjà vu?
National
VIDEO: Here's a view from the Eiffel Tower you haven't seen before
Travel
Do Paris's iconic rooftops deserve Unesco World Heritage status?
Opinion
'France cannot reform, the pilots' strike showed us this'
National
'We just don’t work hard enough in France.' Is that true?
International
France has moved to beef up security in various public places
National
Hiking naked in France does not come risk-free
Culture
10 French customs that confuse Anglos
National
IN PICTURES: A look inside France's 'most notorious' prison
International
Isis urges killing of 'spiteful, dirty' French
National
Paris installs new device to stop 'love lock' craze
National
Paris cabby dies in vicious high-heel attack
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se