The recent presidential elections were held in two rounds on April 10 and April 24 of 2022. Among the 12 electoral nominees were four women, and in the 2nd round we witnessed the competition between Mr.Macron and Ms.Le Pen. Of the 48.7 million people registering for casting votes, Mr.Macron managed to obtain 58.55% of the votes in the 2nd round. This is while, 60% of the women voted for him. The question here is how come the women community voted fewer to the woman nominee –Ms.Le Pen?
In a general study of the women community in France, it has to be seen what has the role of the nominees in responding to the French women’s demands been?
Statistics published by human rights organizations show 50 thousand women between 20 and 60 in France have become victims of violence annually. And the majority of them avoid going to the police. For this reason, in 2013, the interdepartmental unit for protecting women against violence and for combating trafficking in human beings (MIPROF) took shape. The said organization annually examines the French women’s situation and presents statics at the end of each year.
Another organization providing annual data is the French National Institute of Statistics and Economic Studies (INSEE). The mentioned institute declared between the years of 2011-2018, 72% of French women between the ages 18 and 75 were harassed, and only 27% went to the police1 . Also, in 2020 and based on the statistics published by the French Interior Ministry, it was declared that 102 women were killed in domestic violence cases, and 213 thousand were sexually molested.
1.it has to be noted that definition of violence against women in France includes disrespect and even raising voice in the street or workplace, and even staring at their eyes and bodies for a long time.
Thus, a top priority of the French Presidential elections during the electoral campaign was advocating for women and reduction of violence against them.
In doing so, Ms.Anne Hidalgo, Paris mayor from the Socialist party, who was also a nominee, declared as her campaign promise to raise awareness about women’s rights by allocating one billion euros for combating violence against women.
The subject of equality of rights and salaries between men and women is another topic French society is facing. Mr.Yannik Jadot, from the Greens Party, has also made such a promise to introduce a Women affairs Minister with a one billion euro annual budget into his cabinet.
But more surprising than all, Ms.Le Pen , as the second candidate of the elections and main rival of Macron , who made it to the second round, gave no feminist promises and did not tie her election to the women rights. She, in her party campaign (National Front) , did not follow feminist movements, and in her electoral campaign, had bradly promised that she would support combat against sexual violence and violence perpetrated by foreigners (meaning immigrants) against the victims, if elected. About the women and girls of her country, she declared that their security for safe traffic and how to dress must be protected at any hour of the night.
But Mr.Macron, who was president during his first term, tried to appoint an equal number of men and women to ministries, and even his efforts led him to appointing 14 men and 17 women among his ministers and advisors, something unprecedented in the previous terms and years.
Emmanuel Macron talked more of equality between men and women in his second bid campaign. In his interviews during his campaign in the second run for presidency, he promised better facilities for head of household mothers. Because at present 85% of single-parent families are supported by mothers.
Also, Macron gave news of reforms and increasing women’s quota in engineering professions as well as in the Services sector. He stated that he had put on his agenda more facilities for employed women (for birth leave, diseases exclusive to women, like breast cancer…). In addition, more staff will be appointed in police commissions to examine cases related to women, so that in doing so between 2 thousand and 4 thousand police are training in special courses in support of women. Meanwhile, the fines for disrespecting women have reached 300 euros.
With this said, of the 48.7 million eligible people registered to vote in the French presidential elections, 60% of the women voters have voted for Macron, and he eventually by obtaining 58.55% of the votes in the second run managed to take France’s office for the second term for 5 years.
Over the 5th French Republic period, despite holding the feminist flag so far by this country, France has yet to have a woman president. Only during the presidency of François Mitterrand, Ms.Edith Cresson was prime minister for 10 months.
This subject, compared to several years of Ms.Merkel’s chancellorship in Germany and a century of queenship of Elizabeth in the UK, and the Scandinavian diplomatic apparatus , especially Finland’s, being in the hands of women, is a stain on France’s political, legal and cultural image.
The subject of equality of men and women is a fundamental issue in France. Macron undertook many measures in his first term in this regard, which seem to have influenced the behavior of potential women voters in the elections. As pointed to above, these measures take place in competition with other European countries. However, given the above statistics regarding violence against women, it seems this country has still a long way to go.
Masoumeh Seif Afjeei, IPIS
(The opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of the IPIS)