International Women’s Day (March 8): Paris pledge [fr]
On the occasion of the 40th International Women’s Day, Jean-Marc Ayrault, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development, and Laurence Rossignol, Minister for Families, Children and Women’s Rights, have co-chaired a high-level event at the Quai d’Orsay, which has bring together personalities from all walks of life.
This meeting, which has been closed by President Hollande, also provided an opportunity to present the “Paris Pledge,” a text calling on the international community to remobilize its efforts in support of women’s rights in a context in which women continue to be victims of sexual, physical and psychological violence all over the world.
A historic moment in the affirmation of a global movement to empower women, the Beijing Conference provided an opportunity to make great strides in recognizing their basic rights. Thanks to international commitments that have been made since 1995, more women are working, are attaining positions of responsibility, are benefiting from sexual and reproductive health services and are protected by legislation punishing gender-based violence.
Yet, these advances remain fragile and women’s rights continue to be flouted on a daily basis. In dozens of countries, abortion is still illegal and contraception is unattainable. All over the world, women are victims of sexual, physical and psychological violence, and the persistence of sexism remains a major obstacle to their achieving independence. Therefore, there is still an essential need to eliminate all forms of discrimination suffered by women and girls.
Today it is a matter of urgency. The fear of regression has never been so strong at a time when the most reactionary ideologies and the most dangerous forms of extremism, particularly of a religious nature, are re-emerging. More than ever, women and their rights are in danger.
In the areas of armed conflict, rape is a weapon of war. Fanatics use women as slaves and persecute them, which can be seen with the women in the Yezidi community. Elsewhere in the world, efforts to protect women and children from marital and family violence are non-existent or endangered, a charge of adultery is punishable with the most extreme violence and promoting sexual and reproductive health is being threatened. Even in Europe, some governments intend to reassign women the role of procreating and working in the household, and are seeking to limit and even prevent all access to abortion.
Genuine equality will be impossible as long as societies continue to tolerate or exercise control over women’s bodies, through coercion or violence, whether it be physical or emotional. On the 40th International Women’s Rights Day, and faced with these unprecedented threats, France solemnly calls on everyone to exercise vigilance and to take action.
International solidarity has always been at the core of women’s struggles. Women’s futures are connected across all the continents: when some people’s rights are attacked, all people’s rights are weakened.
In the face of regression, fundamentalism and ideologies that can damage freedom, we pledge to promote the universal recognition of sexual and reproductive rights and of all freedoms of women and girls.
We pledge to support the fight against all forms of violence against women and girls.
We pledge to encourage and support the empowerment of women and girls.
There is no struggle that is more universal.