After a year of strong political stances at global level, France is now expected to implement its feminist foreign policy. The year 2020 saw the first tangible results of this new agenda. France will host the Generation Equality Forum (GEF) in 2021 and, in that context, positioned itself as co-lead of the action coalition on SRHR and Bodily Autonomy. France also launched a fund to support feminist associations in the Global South.
Simultaneously, the government is being challenged as advocates are calling for more coherence between its national and global discourse.
Policies & funding
After being postponed several times - and not only due to the COVID-19 pandemic -, the renewed Development Law is expected to be adopted by the end of the first semester of 2021. Gender, health and education should remain the top priorities of this long overdue law. Francophone West African countries remain the biggest priority for French development policies.
The government will dedicate € 120 million to support feminist associations in the Global South, with a significant focus on SRH/FP. Respective disbursements will occur over 3 years. Even though the initial commitment mentioned a yearly disbursement, this rhythm is still considered to be a major progress. CSOs are also committed to remain vigilant so that funding mechanisms evolve towards more accessible and flexible channels, to reach out grassroots feminist associations.
France also doubled its SRH/FP related core funding to UNFPA in 2019 (€550,000 to €1.1 million). Further investments are expected through the GEF SRHR action coalition, in order to reach levels of funding closer to other feminist foreign policies. The 2021 budget mentions a € 19 million envelope, but the breakdown remains to be clarified.
The Generation Equality Forum (GEF) that was supposed to take place in Paris in the summer of 2020 was postponed to June 2021 due to the COVID-19 crisis. It is likely that the organisers will have to reduce the scale of the event, which makes it all the more important for France to ensure that feminist movements and advocates are given the means and space to meaningfully engage in the process.
France played a critical role in the launch of Act-A, a global initiative to support the research and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines and health systems globally. The country also keeps playing a crucial role in the board of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria. In these different spaces, France needs to further enhance linkages with gender equality and SRHR, in line with President Macron’s statement at the Global Fund’s replenishment conference in 2019.
France’s feminist stance has started to be embodied at the highest level during the 2020 UN General Assembly. President Macron took a strong stance in favour of women’s bodily autonomy and abortion rights, arguing that there was no time for self-congratulation nor commemoration, but that it was time to act. France also stated that it would use its seat in the UN Human Rights commission to further promote its feminist approach. This demonstrated ambition will serve as the baseline to assess the success and outcomes of the Generation Equality Forum in 2021.
- France’s international strategy for gender equality (2018-2022)
- Ministry of Foreign Affairs Health Strategy (2017)
- Ministry of Foreign Affairs Population/SRHR Strategic Paper (2016)
- Development Law (2014)
- Gender Equality High Council’s report on the feminist diplomacy (2020)
Updated January 2021
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- European Institutions
- United Kingdom