The Pay Inequality Leads To French Women Working For “Free”


In this era of the 21st century where the most important and confidential topics include Fundamental Rights, Equality, Women Empowerment and their rights. Women have been suffering a lot in the history, to keep that in consideration, France is no less and has been implementing laws for the right of equality of women.

To reform the present and future, let’s just peek in the past of French women.


Historically, French women were extensively involved with domestic duties like cleaning, housekeeping, preparing meals and taking care of the family. This later extended to the upkeep of the farm, including livestock and crop harvesting. With the advent of industrial revolution in France, women started going to the factories and helpers and skilled labour. Women were often dependent on the financial support of their husbands, and therefore this did not include them. When French women gained the right to vote further changes to the status of women in France became apparent in 1944.

Progress needed to ensure women’s sexual and reproductive health and rights in Europe.

Reproductive Rights And Health

In the second half of the 20th-century, women in France obtained many more reproductive rights. The Neuwirth Act of 1967 authorized contraception. The Veil Law of 1975 legalized abortion which gave them a sense of independence and freedom. The maternal mortality rate in France has now changed to 8.00 deaths/100,000 live births (as of 2010).

France condition for women was much better compared to other countries on subjects in feminism, domestic violence, and even their religion.

Today’s Scenario

A study based on Eurostat data revealed that in 2015 the gross hourly wage for women was 15.8 percent which was much lower than that of men. This calculates to French women working for free for 39.7 days if counted for a year.

Pay Inequality On The Rise

Hundreds of protestors gather at Paris’ place de la République to protest against the gender pay gap

In the year of 2016, feminist associations held several demonstrations in France to draw the attention of the people to the gender pay gap.

“We had the impression that people were just discovering this inequality,” Rebecca Amsellem, founder of Les Glorieuses, said to BFM Business, a French TV Channel.

Demonstrations for the same were also held last year on November 7th at 4:04 PM.

“Last year, we drew our statistics from the latest Eurostat figures available, which were based on salaries in 2010,” Amsellem told FRANCE 24. “We cannot say that this drop happened in one year – rather, it happened over five.”

Growing Awareness Of The Issue

With the success of last year’s campaign, the collective wants to launch a strike again this year. Besides pictures and a campaign on social networks, Les Glorieuses have launched a petition geared towards bringing about revolution.

“We want concrete progress that’s more efficient than the current system, and that would consist of fining companies that fail to respect pay equality,” Amsellem said.

Several measures have been designed by the collectives to address pay inequality which majorly includes asking companies to be transparent and rational about how much they pay women and men, introducing identical maternity and paternity leave, thereby creating an “equality certificate” that would be issued by the French state.

According to a study by the Concorde Foundation, a French think tank, establishing pay gender parity would generate €61.9 billion annually for the French economy.

Despite the potential benefits, full gender parity is not expected to materialize until 2234, according to a report from the World Economic Forum.

The inequality of the pay is the major issue and has sadly amounted to be concluded to the statement that French women would work for free. Awareness should be expanded and encouraged.


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