Hollande's actress girlfriend fronts anti-sexism campaign

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Paris (AFP)

French President Francois Hollande's actress girlfriend Julie Gayet has taken on a new role, appearing as an anti-sexism ambassador in a government campaign launched Thursday.

The campaign entitled "Sexisme, pas notre genre" (which loosely translates as 'Sexism, not our type') aims to highlight the discrimination still suffered by many French women because of their gender.

Statistics published by the ministry for family and women's rights shows the enduring nature of sexism in the home, the workplace and public life.

Only one of the companies in the CAC40 listing of France's top listed companies is headed by a woman and only 16 per cent of the country's mayors are female.

Women also earn on average 19 percent less than men for the same work.

Gayet, who is little known as an actress outside France was thrust onto the global stage in January 2014 when a magazine published paparazzi pictures of Hollande riding across Paris on a scooter to rendezvous with her in secret.

Shortly after the story broke Hollande ended his relationship with his partner Valerie Trierweiler, who went on to savage him in a tell-all book about their years together.

Embarrassed at seeing his private life splashed across the front pages Hollande, 62, has kept his relationship with Gayet, 44, strictly private.

But in a sign she may be about to play a more public role ahead of next year's presidential election Gayet posed for the cover of this week's Paris Match and gave an interview to Le Parisien daily.

The blonde mother of two told the newspaper that parents had to lead by example when it came to gender equality.

"I want my boys to do the same things as I do: they clear the table and are learning to cook."

Hollande, who has four children from an earlier relationship with Environment Minister Segolene Royal, has not yet confirmed whether he will seek a second term.

Polls show the deeply unpopular Socialist being soundly beaten if he does.