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Saturday 17 October was a special day for French women, and for anyone who happened to be in Paris, myself included. It is not every day that you see over 15,000 people filling the Bastille behind banners that proudly call for «une réelle égalité», a real equality.

It was a special day for French women and men as well: they both came out to the streets in thousands. I spoke with many of the men, who were not only there as husbands, partners and fathers, but as concerned citizens to support the idea of promoting women's rights. I strongly believe that their participation is an invaluable asset for real gender equality in the twenty-first century.

I was particularly delighted to see my friends from the PS from all over France in the streets: Martine Aubry, First Secretary of the PS, Anne Hidalgo, first deputy mayor of Paris, Pascale Crozon, MP from Rhône and Gaelle Lenfant, Deputy Secretary for Women's Rights in PS and, together we braved the rainy weather to answer the call of the Collectif National pour les Droits des Femmes, who have been organising the annual demonstration since 1996.
 
It was inspirational to see that all those thousands of people – those women and men - wanting their demands translated into realities. In France only 34% of business executives are women, while women’s salaries are on average 26% lower than men’s for the same positions (compared to the EU average of 17,5%).

No social movement or political family other than the social democrats can take the lead in the new direction of feminism of the twenty-first century. It falls to us to create these new realities. Not only because we have always been at the forefront of struggles for women’s rights, but because more than anyone else, we realise that they remain a struggle.

As I always say, socialists are feminists and I am looking forward to discuss this topic at the next PES Women Annual Conference on 5-6 December in Prague.



Photos by Bruno Lapeyre


 

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