Discrimination Against Women A Global Survey of the Economic, Educational, Social and Political Status of Women

By Eschel M. Rhoodie | Go to book overview

12. Case Study: France

Introduction

In France, a country with a long and proud human rights tradition, women had to fight a long uphill battle to gain the equality proclaimed in the Human Rights Declaration of 1789. For them equality and the right to work did not yet entail any validity.

After the Revolution it was of more significance that property and ownership had become a constitutionally guaranteed human right. As such it became part of the Code Napoleon 1804 (civil code), where it also resulted in changes to matrimonial law and the law of succession. However, with respect to women, the traditional legal view prevailed. A wife remained under the husband's protection, subject to his authority; without his consent she could not dispose of her own assets. 1 The early women's movement in the first half of the nineteenth century realized very quickly that the Human Rights Declaration of 1789, the "Declaration des droits de l'homme," in fact meant only the rights of man (literal translation of "droits de l'homme"). They believed that women's rights must be an integral part of human rights. Thus they pressed for changes in the position of the married woman in the civil code and claimed their rights as workers.

History has shown that until very recently a woman's fortune remained subject to traditional morality and principles, and to males. However, in the battle for improved social rights for men and women, women had some partial successes. These included the introduction of two-month paid maternity leave in 1910, the right of women to dispose of their revenues from a gainful occupation (Act of 13th July 1907), the right to exercise a profession (except if the husband opposed), and, in 1920, the right to join a union without requiring the husband's consent. 2

In French constitutional history, the preamble of the 1946 Constitution of the Fourth Republic first expressly set out the fundamental principle of equality between men and women. This preamble, as well as the Human Rights Declaration of 1789, is part of the 1958 Constitution of the Fifth Republic.

It was not, however, until the 1960s that the law-making machinery began to move to this end. We can observe a continuous and gradual process of granting women equality with men in all domains as prescribed in the Constitution and the establishment of governmental machinery to safeguard women's rights. The first body to be set up in France in 1965 was the Study and Liaison Committee for Women's Employment. The apparatus for safeguarding women's rights has since expanded. It became increasingly broad in its aims

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Discrimination Against Women A Global Survey of the Economic, Educational, Social and Political Status of Women
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Foreword ix
  • Part One Introduction 1
  • 1. the Evaluation and Presentation of Data 2
  • 2. the Status of Women: A Global View 13
  • 3. the Environment of Discrimination 34
  • Part Two: Legal and International Aspects 61
  • 4. the International World 62
  • 5. Constitutional and Statutory Differentiation 79
  • Part Three: the African World 99
  • 6. General Survey. 100
  • 7. Case Study: Nigeria 115
  • 8. Case Study: Kenya Introduction 125
  • 9. Case Study: South Africa 136
  • Part Four: the European Community 165
  • 10. General Survey 166
  • 11. Case Study: United Kingdom 191
  • 12. Case Study: France 201
  • 13. Case Study: West Germany 214
  • 14. Case Study: Switzerland 227
  • Part Five: North America 239
  • 15. Case Study: Canada 240
  • Conclusion 247
  • 16 Case Study: The United States 248
  • Part Six: the Communist East Bloc 289
  • 17. General Survey 290
  • 18. Case Study: the Soviet Union 304
  • Part Seven: Latin America 321
  • 19. General Survey 322
  • 20. Brief Case Studies of Colombia, Bolivia, Brazil and Peru 332
  • Part Eight: the Arab-Muslim World 345
  • 21. General Survey 346
  • 22. Case Study: Egypt 363
  • 23. Case Study: Tunisia 369
  • 24. Case Study: Iran 375
  • Part Nine: the Asian World 383
  • 25. General Survey 384
  • 26. Case Study: India 395
  • 27. Case Study: Japan 402
  • 28. Case Study: the People's Republic of China 417
  • Part Ten: Conclusions, Recommendations, Guide to Data, and Research Proposals 431
  • 29. Summary and Conclusions 432
  • 31. Data: Guide to Information Sources 481
  • 32. Research Proposals 505
  • Notes 519
  • Bibliography 587
  • Index 601
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