Women as defined by the French

The discrepancy between women’s civil status on documents and men’s is today highlighted in an article by France 24:

Is that Madame… or Mademoiselle?” It’s a question often asked in France, whether you’re opening a bank account, voting, or even booking a train ticket. French feminists argue that France needs to get with it, and stop defining women by their marital status.

Married French women are not only defined by their marital status but are often defined and identified through their husbands: official mail such as bank or tax letters are often addressed to women through their husbands’ name. For example, if Marie Dupont is married to Jacques Dupont, letters meant for her will be sent to Madame Jacques Dupont.

This habit inscribed in every day institutions reflects a wider problem: women are still not seen as independent and capable people. According to the article, France was ranked “a poor 46th in global gender equality at the World Economic Forum last year” and in a country where women are still paid 30% less than men (French link), this is not surprising.

“Small” steps such as revising women’s civil status would not change anything for administrations but would do a lot to ensure that women’s image in society is re-evaluated and more positive.


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