SWOT-analysis of France

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BANDIAR-project SWOT-analysis by ALDA with support of Strasbourg.

Presentation of contacts

In order to elaborate our SWOT analyze we have obtained information from different actors engaged in women and gender equality issues, such as:
– University of Strasbourg -Researchers in gender equality.
– Division for the equality between women and men and the fight against domestic violence (Council of Europe)
– Union européenne feminine,
– Local elected women, including the Delegate to women rights and gender equality-Municipal Council of Strasbourg.

We also used online documentation.


Our SWOT grid has been elaborated according to a methodological plan focused first on the analyses of Strengths points, secondly on Weaknesses points and then on Opportunities and Threats.

First of all we tried to answer the questions about what France has successfully done in order to mobilize and to make visible women in political life; engage citizen in political dialogue and in electoral participation. Then, to continue the analysis of Strengths points, we wondered what kind of resources are available to us in order to mobilize and to make visible women in political life; to engage citizen in political dialogues and in electoral participation.

Concerning the study of weaknesses points we wondered what kind of positions women politicians occupy in contrast to men and through statistical data we show that women occupy places in welfare committees where there are many detail rules to be considered and that there are only men on the major positions like municipal executive committee, tax committees etc. These data showed that we lack many resources in order to involve women in political life. We have analyzed them and we have extended our study the lack of resources in order to involve citizen in political life too.

We have put in evidence opportunities offered by the involvement of women and citizen in political life providing social arguments.

The last part of our analysis has been dedicated to the study of threats generated by the male perception to consider political life only a male matter. We have shown social challenges produced as the result of involvement of women and citizen in political life without forgetting obstacles we have to face.


Analysis of results.

At this point we propose to analyze the results we get through the studies conducted during the SWOT analyses.


The Observatory of the parity in France is an independent organ asked to follow the governmental politics in well-balanced participation of the women and the men in the political and public life. This organ could be a mediator, an observatory or a division specialized in the national mechanism in the field of gender equality.

Two political parties – the Socialist Party and Greens – set up internal positive measures. The practice adopted by the Socialist Party and applied during the general election of 1997, consists in reserving legislative districts for feminine candidacies. Greens introduced positive measures into the statutes of their party (parity of the sexes for responsible jobs with adoption of voting systems suited to realize it).

The constitutional revision voted by the parliament gathered in congress on June 28th, 1999, dedicated the principle of equal access of women and men to the electoral mandates and to the elective offices. The article 3 of the Constitution confers on the law the care of facilitating this equal access, whereas the article 4 arranges that the parties ” contribute to implement this principle ”. In December, 1999, the government set in the National Assembly a bill ” tending to facilitate the equal access of women and men to the electoral mandate and the elective offices ” as well as an organic bill for overseas territories (New Caledonia, Polynesia and Wallis and Futuna). All these texts was adopted on May 3rd, 2000

The Government put into practice, on one hand, the gender parity (50 % of candidates of every sex) and on the other hand, it choose not to modify the voting systems. And so, from March, 2001, the law will apply in the municipalities of more than 3.500 inhabitants, from September, 2001, for the senatorial elections (for the departments where the senators are elected in the proportional) and from 2004 for the local and European elections.
In all these ballots, the law plans that in each list, ” the distance among the number of the candidates of the two sexes cannot be superior to one ” and, for the municipal and regional elections, that ” within every group of six candidates, in occasion of presentation of lists, an an equal number of candidates of every sex has to be respected”.

Besides, the law allows a political party not to be sanctioned if it presents 49 % of women and 51 % of men.



According to statistical data, French women engaged in political life occupy positions in following areas:
– Citizenship, electoral affairs and affairs of nationality
– Women and equality of the genres right
– International and European relations
– Sustainable development, climate, environment
– Legal and contentious risks prevention
– E-administration
– Public commerce and calls for tender
– Social matters
– Green spaces

If we analyze these data, we notice that French women have never occupied positions in traditionally male areas like economics and finance. There have always been only men on the major positions like municipal executive committee, tax committees etc.

The obstacles that prevent women to be engaged in public life and especially which prevent them to play a role at the higher levels, are the following:

– the conciliation of the public and private life;
– the poverty of the women in terms of lower salaries in parity of working conditions of the men;
– the socio-psychological female representation imposed by the society;
– the education in schools and universities proposing a stereotypical image of the women;
– images and communication around the feminine subjects proposed by the mass media;
– the lack of measure accompanying the legislation in gender equality issues;
– the lack of information about resources offered to the women in terms of participation in associations.



In order to reduce obstacles preventing the participation of women in public life it would be very useful:

– to act at the European level. The European level is the best perspective to act in the field of the policies aiming the gender equality. Through the actions engaging member states, the European institutions occupy a more and more important place in the promotion of human rights (ex. campaign against the domestic violence; launching a transverse debate to the conference of the OING of the Council of Europe).

– to launch a campaign of information. It would be useful to use the money stemmed from fines paid by the political parties, which prefer not to respect the parity-women men during the elections, in favour of a media campaign to promote the role of the woman in political life. The aim is to marginalize stereotypes we find in the media about women and through the set up of training in schools of journalism, for example ). The way we speak about women and the way they accept that we speak about them are very important. The question of language also deserves a particular attention.

– to set up measures of accompaniment in the legislation in gender equality: training support, measures in the economic domain, to facilitate the conciliation of the professional and private life, etc.

– to coordinate the networks of elected women to increase their visibility and impact and to support women in being involved in politics.

– to give value to the action of the engaged women and give more visibility to their commitments

– to give value to the engaged citizen and associations (as possible point of departure of commitment in the political life)

– to act at the level of education of young people through measures allowing to make sensitive them about the theme of the gender parity and especially by presenting them a different image about woman. This measure could take the shape of a project implying debates, forum, testimonies brought by women already engaged in political life in schools (on the US model where regularly persons come to speak about their profession).

– to increase training and information for women about the possibilities to access to the political life.
The use of new communications is also to be privileged (debates / on-line forums, etc.).

– to improve the access to the justice: women have rights and they have to be capable of benefit of them and of defending them (fight against the discriminations,) It would be necessary to simplify the procedures to prove women are victims of a discrimination.

– to involve men showing them that it is in their interest to make the women more participative in political life. Promote the role of the men as partners.

If we had to elaborate an argument to support the necessity to involve women and all citizens in political life, we could put in evidence the fact that equality is about creating a fair society, where everyone can participate equally and where everyone has the opportunity to fulfill their potential to produce the Common Good. Gender equality means giving equal freedom of choice, empowerment and participation to women and men in all spheres of public and private life. Taking part in elections and in political dialogue offers the only possibility to increase our trust in laws and in the system..


Even where equality plans are obligatory, they can be absent in practice especially as there is often a lack of sanctions. So it is not only a matter of legislation but also a matter of implementation of the legislation and sanctions.

Women mobilization challenges the traditional way to consider the relationship between women and men. Taking part in political issues has always been a male priority not only according to men’s point of view; this dominant way of considering society has been partly accepted by women. So the main obstacle relates to a change of mentalities. In the French model of national representation, rights are bestowed uniquely on the Nation and not on the people represented. National sovereignty eclipses the projection of the people. A woman has no right to present herself as a woman in a political life based on male concepts. In these terms, female mobilization and the increase of women’s visibility in political life have to face the obstacles represented by a mentality based on male concepts.

Regarding citizens in general, their involvement in political dialogue and in electoral participation has to face another kind of obstacle that is well represented by the lack of trust in political matters; politics are not felt by citizens as the way to create and to share the Common Good.



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