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Women's right to vote in France hits 70th anniversary

French President Francois Hollande (C) speaks with French Minister for Women's Rights Najat Vallaud-Belkacem (L) and Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo (R) at the Paris town hall
French President Francois Hollande (C) speaks with French Minister for Women's Rights Najat Vallaud-Belkacem (L) and Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo (R) at the Paris town hall Reuters/Eric Feferberg

France is celebrating the 70th anniversary of women's right to vote. Before 1944, French women did not have the same political rights as men, seven decades later, they now participate fully in elections. Yet despite their achievements, they still remain under-represented in government.

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Flanked by his two female ministers: Anne Hidalgo, Mayor of Paris, and Najat Vallaud-Belkacem, Minister of Women's Rights, François Hollande celebrated 70 years of  equal voting rights for women.

But, he welcomed that much more still needed to be done.

Today, just 27 per cent of French members of parliament are women, including Justice minister Christiane Taubira and new Ecology minister Segolene Royal.

However the recent government reshuffle did see the exit of top female ministers like Cécile Duflot, Minister of Housing and Fleur Pellerin, former Minister of new technology.

Women's rights in France - given or taken?

According to analysts like Françoise Picq, the average person does not even know when French women gained the right to vote. Even former Prime minister Lionel Jospin got the date wrong during a public address, referring to 1945 instead of 1944.

And in the work place, women still struggle to access top-decision making posts. But if women still have their work cut out, their visibility in the political arena is nonetheless an achievement.

France was the ninth country to grant equal voting rights to women in 1944 after the US and Britain.

New Zealand was the most pioneering, offering women universal suffrage rights as early as 1893.

 

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