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Not enough - French feminists react to women resistance fighters in Panthéon

Francois Hollande speaks at the homage to the resistance where he made the Panthéon announcement at the Mont Valérien memorial in Suresnes
Francois Hollande speaks at the homage to the resistance where he made the Panthéon announcement at the Mont Valérien memorial in Suresnes Reuters/Alain Jocard/Pool

François Hollande's nomination of two women to France's Panthéon is not enough, feminists told RFI on Friday after the French president announced that the ashes of three resistants and a murdered politician would be transferred to historic resting place in May next year.

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As expected, Hollande named two women - Germaine Tillion and Geneviève de Gaulle-Antonioz - and two men - Pierre Brossolette and Jean Zay - to be honoured as historic figures for the nation.

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Tillion, de Gaulle-Antonioz and Brossolette were members of the resistance to the German occupation of France during World War II and Zay was a Socialist former education minister, arrested by the Vichy collaborationist government and killed by fascist militiamen.

Tillion and de Gaulle-Antonioz will be only the third and fourth women to be placed in the Panthéon.

"We are quite disappointed because we expected the French president to make the decision to honour more than two women at the Panthéon," Clémence Helfter of the Osez le féminisme group told RFI. "Today there are only two women for 71 men in the Panthéon, so if we have two more women and two more men, we will still have the same gap in the proportion of men and women."

Hollande said he wanted to pay tribute to the "spirit of the resistance" and said he chose two women to "recall the contribution of all those women, most often anonymous, who were in the army of the shadows".

"Germaine Tillion and Geneviève de Gaulle-Antonioz were two exceptional women," commented Helfter. "The two of them are still role models for all men and women today."

Osez le féminisme is not optimistic that the gender imbalance will be rectified any day soon.

"We are quite sceptical about the future because today the French president missed an opportunity to make a symbolic gesture," Helfter said. "He said that these four people would enter the Panthéon on 27 May 2015. Maybe we can hope fore more women to be honoured in 2016 and 2017 before the next presidential election but, to be honest, we are really, really sceptical. The gap between men and women in the Panthéon is so huge that it will take many years before we fill this gap if we only select two women a year to enter the Panthéon. It will take more political will to fill this gap. So we call on politicians to act, and act strongly, on this."
 

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