On January 20th, PWN Paris had the pleasure to welcome Nicole Ameline, President at the UN of the CEDAW (Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women) as our Guest Speaker at the Sénat Restaurant.
Nicole Ameline is also, and has been for over 20 years, a member of French Parliament, representing Calvados, was Minister for Women’s rights under the Raffarin government and Ambassador to the International Labour Organization in Geneva.
It is the first time that our network has welcomed an elected official. With her long-term engagement into politics, Nicole Ameline has always been a committed activist for human rights and devoted her life to women's rights and gender equality. In this context, she is also President of the Arborus Fund, an endowment fund for gender equality.
Women’s rights are threatened everywhere even in Europe
According to Nicole Ameline, the 19th century was extremely damaging for women’s rights – since then, women have won the battle to be legally equal almost everywhere in the world. However, they remain targets in wars and victims of domestic violence everywhere – every crisis in the word is damaging for women either economically or politically, as shown by recent history.
Law is the only answer to inequality
3000 years of history cannot be written off in 30 years, she notes. The vision of equality is much contrasted around the world and women's rights are threatened mainly because they are new. Detractors, who think that equality and women rights have gone too far, take action against them. Today, the answer to inequality around the world is a strong legal system. Women’s rights have never been so high, yet there is still a long journey towards gender equality.
Women should be assertive and feel free
The question we should ask ourselves is “Have women been revolutionary enough?” Nicole Ameline’s answer is No – so perhaps it is time we became more revolutionary! Women look at themselves in the mirror with men’s eyes… If they do not want to be trapped in the need to seduce, they should be more assertive. Nicole Ameline says, “We are women, not objects.” Equality is also a self-awareness issue. We should set ourselves the challenge of autonomy, awareness and affirmation. The 21st century should be the century of women’s awareness and independence. Girls and boys should feel free of choice and of all possibilities.
Let’s fight for ourselves and for all women
Women will not progress without other women. French women should keep their capacity to inspire the world. What we have is not enough, and we cannot give up. We must continue to defend women’s rights for us and for all women around the world who watch French and European women, and may be inspired to follow our lead. Every progress we make is a hope for women from developing countries!
Power remains to be conquered
This is our last battle, both in politics and in the business world. Successful women should not mask all the others. We should be involved in companies through networking and mentoring to help new generations of women.
Nicole Ameline quoted Jacques Chirac, saying: “Quotas are not satisfactory but less ridiculous than women who are not reaching executive positions”.
She concluded with a positive message: The modern economy is made of women!
And a wise piece of advice: Ask not what this century can do for you, be ready to play the part this century expects from you.
Nathalie Baumgaertener-Dutang, Senior Manager Audit Middle Markets at KPMG
Emmanuelle Scelles - PWN Paris Co-VP Events
>>Back to Newsletter