Translated by Karen Grimwade
(l’Humanite) Achieving equality between women and men remains a struggle. In the family, at work or in politics, discrimination persists.

Despite the fundamental progress women have fought hard to achieve over the last forty years, a report by the Economic, Social and Environmental Council (CESE), presented yesterday by Pierette Crosemarie, reveals that inequality is still crippling our society.

“There is still work to be done”, stated the rapporteur and CGT trade unionist, who fears the effect the economic crisis will have on women. Whether it be part-time work, developed in the 90’s and which today is overwhelmingly feminine (82% of part-time employees are women), or the decision of the Laval government in 1935 to dismiss those wives of government employees working in the public sector, history has shown that women have a lot to fear from recessions.

A full-time minister

“We want equality in politics and we want it now.” The CESE’s delegation for women’s rights and equal opportunities between men and women has had enough. Good will is exasperating. “Binding measures” should be put in place to rapidly achieve equality and the Government must set the example by no longer excluding women from high level positions and once again appointing “a full-time minister exclusively responsible for questions of professional equality”.

When it comes to good will that leads nowhere, the professional world has got plenty. The principle of “equal pay for equal work”, reaffirmed in four laws since 1972, goes unheeded. In the private sector, women with equivalent qualifications are paid 19% less than men. In public hospitals this gap grows to 27%. Most of the agreements signed in companies regarding this question have “no substance”. “It is discrimination, pure and simple”, says Pierette Crosemarie. The glass ceiling preventing women from accessing positions of responsibility doesn’t even have a crack in it : only 8% of the heads of large companies are women. The CESE recommends setting indicators and target figures to be attained in terms of reducing gender gaps, and also aims to transform the performance “model” used in companies by minimising the “time present at work” criterion.

Reimbursement of contraception, nursery places, sex education at school, highly selective and gender specific school guidance, lifelong learning…There are many battles which women still have to fight “for the overall good of society”.