French Minister, Elisabeth Moreno, calls for greater equality post-covid



In July 2020, Elisabeth Moreno was appointed Minister Delegate for Gender Equality, Diversity and Equal Opportunities in France. She is a relative newcomer to politics having spent most of her professional life rising through the social ranks to become a powerful business leader. Her humble beginnings as the daughter of immigrants from Cape Verde and her battle to get where she is today give her a true understanding of what it will take to achieve real equality for all. She gives Euronews some insight into France’s fight against discrimination, equality in the workforce, how the pandemic has affected women and LGBT+ rights in Europe.

To watch the full interview with Minister Elisabeth Moreno click on the media player above

Your main mission is the fight against discrimination. The pandemic has deepened inequalities and discrimination. Women, among others, are the big losers. What are you doing in the fight this emergency?

Elisabeth Moreno, France’s Minister Delegate for Gender Equality, Diversity and Equal Opportunities:

“Well, listening to your question, it’s the quote from Simone de Beauvoir that comes to mind, when she said that all it takes is a political, economic or religious crisis for women’s hard-won rights to regress. And that is exactly what has happened during this pandemic.

Women have been at the front line of the crisis, as women often work in essential jobs, like healthcare. They have been in retirement homes and in sheltered housing to take care of the elderly. They have been in education, they have been in distribution and they have been in the cleaning sector.

And they were, as you also said, the first victims, because when the lockdown was announced, they were the ones who worked from home when it was possible, they took care of the children’s homework, and at the same time, they took care of the domestic tasks. Having worked in the technology world, I’ve always thought that technology is a powerful tool for women to get more flexibility and a better work-life balance. But at the same time, they can trap women. Taking care of domestic tasks and working as if you were at the office is an unbearable mental pressure.

We need to make sure that the Post-Covid world is much more inclusive and much more egalitarian, not only in terms of rights but also in terms of the tools that are given to women for greater emancipation.”

The periods of lockdown have had dramatic repercussions on domestic violence. How does France compare to other European countries? Is it doing better than others?

Elisabeth Moreno, France’s Minister Delegate for Gender Equality, Diversity and Equal Opportunities:

“Violence kills, it physically kills people, it kills dreams, it kills ambitions. In 2019, we organised round table discussions on domestic violence and 46 concrete, practical measures emerged from it, like urgent accommodation to house women who are victims of violence and anti-approaching bracelets, electronic tagging, to ensure that aggressors stay away from their victims”.

Electronic tagging in Spain, for example, has been used for over ten years. Is France lagging behind?

Elisabeth Moreno, France’s Minister Delegate for Gender Equality, Diversity and Equal Opportunities:

“You are right. These bracelets were deployed throughout the whole French territory in December last year. It’s now May. We have to give it some time for things to fall into place.

A few years ago, domestic violence was just a minor news story. Until a few years ago, we hadn’t trained 70,000 police officers in how to deal specifically with domestic violence. A few years ago, judges didn’t take such a proactive approach to these issues of domestic violence. A few years ago, society in general considered domestic violence as a private matter that should not be dealt with.

The French Assembly has just voted on a bill to impose quotas on companies with more than 1000 employees. Is there no other solution than quotas imposed by force?

Elisabeth Moreno, France’s Minister Delegate for Gender Equality, Diversity and Equal Opportunities:

“This law includes several measures. Companies with over 1000 employees will be asked to have more than 30% of women in executive positions, that’s the imposed targets you mentioned.

But I also want to emphasise that this law is not only about quotas. We are also going to work on higher education, to get more young girls into professions that are deserted by women, areas such as science, technology and engineering. In the digital sector, professional opportunities today are exponential. And women are missing out on these opportunities. Only 12% of startups in France are created by women, that’s 12%.”

It was recently World Day against Homophobia and Transphobia. Associations are denouncing a serious setback in LGBT rights in several European countries like Hungary, Poland and France. France is being singled out for its lack of action. What do you say to these associations?

Elisabeth Moreno, France’s Minister Delegate for Gender Equality, Diversity and Equal Opportunities:

“We have implemented 42 actions to fight for the recognition of LGBT+ rights, to ensure that they have real access to all these rights, to fight against hatred and discrimination that they are victims of and to improve their daily lives. In the future, we want women in lesbian couples, and also single women, to have access to medically assisted reproduction.

If, after all these measures, France is not considered to be making an effort then I think it is unfair.

When Poland had this unbelievable idea to have areas without LGBT +, we reacted, we wrote to the European Union to ask for sanctions because the European Union is also about values that we must carry and share together”.

As a woman with an immigrant background, have you personally been faced with discrimination? How did you react to that?”

Elisabeth Moreno, France’s Minister Delegate for Gender Equality, Diversity and Equal Opportunities:

“I have been confronted with all the kinds of discrimination that you can imagine. All of them. I am a woman, I am black, I am an immigrant, I have a disability. I’m not going to tell you all the injuries and humiliations I’ve suffered because I am what I am. And at the same time, I was lucky enough to grow up in a country where I could benefit from the state schools. And I have risen here to the place that is mine. My parents would never have thought it possible. I would never have thought it possible. Because people like me are in permanent self-censorship, because they hear all the time, it is not for them, “who do you think you are?”, “stay in your place”. Some give up. I am lucky to have had people around me who have supported me, who have reached out to me, who have helped me. And from where I am today, I want to do that for others”.


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