[11 March 2024] The Hindu Op-ed: France’s exceptional women, their imprint on diplomacy

PYQ Relevance:
1. Analyze the distinguishing features of the notion of Right to Equality in the Constitutions of the USA and India. (UPSC CSE 2021)

2. ‘Women’s movement in India has not addressed the issues of women of lower social strata.’ Substantiate your view. (UPSC CSE 2018)nt in the formal sector of the Indian economy? Is increased informalization detrimental to the development of the country? [UPSC CSE 2016]
From The Hindu


Mains: Social Issues and Justice; Women Issues;

Prelims: Women’s rights in the Indian Constitution;

Mentor comments: France became the first country to enshrine the freedom of women to voluntarily terminate a pregnancy in its Constitution. This decision is rooted in the groundbreaking work of French feminist icon Simone de Beauvoir, who in 1949 published “The Second Sex,” a philosophical work advocating for women’s right to choose and challenging societal norms around motherhood and abortion. Secondly, France’s commitment to women’s rights is reflected in its feminist foreign policy, advocating for gender equality globally. Through this Article, we need to study the collaboration between France and India that holds great potential to further advance women’s rights on a global scale, building on their shared commitments to gender equality and empowerment.

Let’s learn. 

Why in the News?

On March 4, 2024, France became the first country to enshrine the “freedom of women to voluntarily terminate a pregnancy” in its Constitution, marking a historic moment that sends a universal message of solidarity to women worldwide.

What is the recent groundbreaking Work on Women’s Rights in France?

Legalization of Abortion in France: The constitutional amendment aims to safeguard abortion access amidst global threats and challenges to reproductive health rights. This step is crucial for ensuring autonomy and informed decision-making regarding sexual and reproductive health care, including abortion.

  • Women’s right to choose: Simone de Beauvoir (1949), in her “The Second Sex,”(seminal work in feminist philosophy) challenged traditional views of women as solely mothers and caregivers, advocating for women’s right to choose.
  • Right to abortion: Simone de Beauvoir highlighted the need for free, safe, and legal abortion services to empower women in controlling their destinies. On this background, France recently enshrined the right to abortion in its constitution, a historic move to protect reproductive rights.

What are the major two criticisms and challenges ahead?

  • Prevalent inequalities: Despite progress, France still faces barriers to abortion care and other women’s rights issues like violence and discrimination.
  • On setting priorities: The move has sparked debates about the government’s priorities and the actual accessibility of abortion services for all French women.
What other rights are protected by the French constitution?
The French Constitution protects a range of rights beyond the recent inclusion of the right to abortion.

1. Safeguarding individual liberties: The Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen, a foundational document in French constitutional history, outlines key rights and principles.
– These include the recognition that all men are born free and equal in rights, with social distinctions based only on public utility.
– The aim of political associations is to preserve the natural and inalienable rights of man, which encompass liberty, property, security, and resistance to oppression

2. Promoting equality: The French Constitution emphasizes equality before the law for all citizens without distinction and guarantees fundamental freedoms such as freedom of speech, religion, and opinion.

3. Ensuring accountability: It establishes the right to property as inviolable unless public necessity requires its deprivation with just compensation.

Additionally, the Constitution ensures that public taxes are equally apportioned among citizens according to their means and that society has the right to hold public agents accountable for their actions.

What is France’s Commitment on feminist foreign policy?

  • France champions a feminist foreign policy, prioritizing gender equality and women’s rights in its diplomatic efforts.
  • The country integrates gender perspectives into bilateral relations, development aid, and advocacy at international forums.
  • France’s co-chairing of the Generation Equality Forum in 2021 underscores its dedication to advancing women’s rights globally.

Impacts of such decisions:

  • Global Impact and Scenario:
    • France’s decision sets a precedent globally, emphasizing the importance of securing reproductive rights as fundamental freedoms.
    • The amendment reflects a broader international focus on advancing women’s rights and addressing gender disparities worldwide.
  • Indian Scenario:
    • India has a history of supporting women’s rights internationally, aligning with Sustainable Development Goal 5 and participating in initiatives for Gender Equality.
    • India’s recent membership in the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women highlights its commitment to promoting gender equality on a global scale.


At a moment when women’s rights are under threat in many regions of the world, this decision also sends out a universal message of solidarity to women across the globe.

  • Learnings and Collaborative Potential:
    • There is significant potential for France and India to collaborate on advancing women’s rights worldwide through joint initiatives and partnerships.
    • By leveraging their shared values and commitments to gender equality, France and India can amplify their impact on promoting women’s empowerment and rights internationally.






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