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Poverty Reduction in FranceFrom 1996-2004, poverty reduction in France was successful as the numbers of those in poverty reduced from 8,292 to 7,495. However, in recent years, the poverty rate in France resembles the figures from 1970, with more than 8.8 million people living in poverty as of 2017. Taking a closer look at poverty reduction in France over the decades, one can gain insight into what has caused the rise in poverty and how France is implementing similar poverty reduction methods to reduce poverty once more. Here are six facts about poverty reduction in France.

6 Facts About Poverty Reduction in France

  1. The 1989/10 Resolution: In 1989, France took steps to reduce poverty by adopting the Human Rights Commission 1989/10 resolution.  The Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs describes the 1989/10 resolution as a “starting point of work” for addressing “human rights and extreme poverty.” This law acknowledged the unfulfillment of France’s impoverished citizens in regard to their economic, cultural, social, political and civil rights needs. The 1989/10 Resolution also sought for French citizens to receive equality in their rights especially regarding the poor.
  2. Universal Basic Health Insurance: In 1999, France implemented “universal basic health insurance” to ensure that even the most impoverished French people can access healthcare. Every citizen of France received the right to this universal sickness coverage. French citizens, to this day, have 70-100% health coverage. Comparing France’s health insurance costs to the United States, the average cost of health insurance for one person is $45 per month in France. In the United States, “In 2020, the average national cost for health insurance is $456″ per person.
  3. The Landmark 2000 Law: In 2000, France implemented the Landmark 2000 Law or the Solidarity and Urban Renewal Law (SRU).  in an effort to make housing more affordable. The Landmark 2000 Law requires cities to make 20% of their housing, shared housing. This law allowed families suffering from poverty to have an affordable housing option. Following free health care and the Landmark 2000 Law, France reached its lowest poverty rate in 2004, compared to 2000. In 2000, the poverty rate was at 13.6%, whereas in 2004, the poverty rate reached 12.6% The 2000 poverty rate of 13.6%, did not rise above this number until 2010.
  4. Rising Poverty: After the 2008 economic collapse, France faced a rising poverty rate. According to Statistica, the poverty rate was 13% in 2008 whereas it rose to 14.8% by 2018.
  5. The Guiding Principles on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights: In 2012, France and 39 other countries incorporated the Guiding Principles on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights into their government systems. The Guiding Principles on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights were a tool to ensure that policymakers would carry out policies that would be beneficial to those in poverty. Policymakers would take account and respect citizens with poverty obstacles, while also upholding their rights.
  6. Social Housing: In today’s world, France is focusing on more social housing. More than 40% of France rents their housing and 40% of the renters also live in public housing. People who live in the housing are citizens who have been homeless, disabled, evicted or have other disadvantages. France is aiming to increase their public housing residents in the next few years. France 24 wrote that “Hidalgo’s administration aims to house [25%] of Parisians in social housing by 2025, and up to [30%] by 2030.”

Looking Ahead

These facts about poverty reduction in France have shown its success from 1970 to 2000. Yet, after the economic crisis in 2008, poverty levels rose. However, France is in the process of rebuilding the economy once more, using similar strategies that have worked previously.

– Sydney Littlejohn
Photo: Flickr

#ActForEqual
#ActForEqual has become popular on Twitter thanks to the recent Generation Equality Forum, which aims to push the progression of gender equality. Women of the U.N. created the Generation Equality Forum as a global gathering to discuss gender equality. The governments of Mexico and France co-hosted the forum, partnering with youth and civil society. Since the pandemic, existing gender inequalities have become worse. COVID-19 has intensified gender inequality in terms of violence, job loss, income, access to technology and more. The forum aims to confront these issues by “launching a series of concrete, ambitious and transformative actions.” It has set tangible goals for 2030.

Importance of the Hashtag

The Generation Equality Forum has used #ActForEqual to draw attention and bring about action. #ActforEqual allows people to show their support simply by posting the hashtag on social media. It is not only a hashtag but a call to action, urging people to do their part in raising awareness. It also calls attention to the fact that COVID-19 continues to worsen gender inequality globally.

COVID-19 and Gender Inequality

COVID-19 has affected people across the globe in many ways. However, it has disproportionately hurt women.

  • Job losses among women are 24% more likely than among men.
  • Women’s average income could fall by 50% more than men’s.
  • Statistically, one in every three women will face violence during her lifetime, a number that the pandemic has exacerbated.
  • Women are 10% less likely to have access to the internet than men.
  • Only 45% of women can make decisions about their bodily autonomy, including their sexual and reproductive health.

On top of these factors, Mckinsey and Company estimates that women’s job loss rates due to COVID-19 are about 1.8 times higher than men’s job loss rates globally. Furthermore, 4.5% of women’s work is at risk because of the pandemic, compared with 3.8% of men’s work. Through progressive action, the Generation Equality Forum aims to reduce these figures.

Taking Action Against Gender Equality

The Generation Equality Forum has created action coalitions that focus on the most critical areas of gender equality. These coalitions “catalyze collective action, spark global and local conversations among generations, drive increased public and private investment and deliver concrete, game-changing results.” Each focuses on a particular issue. The six coalitions aim to:

  • Promote feminist action in relation to climate.
  • Stop gender-based violence.
  • Boost feminist movements and leadership.
  • Promote economic justice and rights.
  • Guarantee women’s bodily autonomy and sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR).
  • Use technology and innovation to achieve gender equality.

By focusing on these areas, action coalition leaders plan to see concrete results over the next five years that will lead to lasting change regarding gender equality.

Despite the increased challenges regarding equality between men and women during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Generation Equality Forum is playing its part to raise awareness. These efforts have the potential to elevate women, placing them in an equal position to men across the globe.

– Ariel Dowdy
Photo: Flickr

impact of covid-19 on poverty in haitiIn 1804, Haiti officially declared its independence from France following the Haitian Rebellion. Similar to the United States, the legacy of colonization and slavery continues to affect the country. Haiti is one of the countries in the Western Hemisphere with the highest poverty rates, ranking 168 out of 187 on the 2014 Human Development Index. Although the impact of COVID-19 on poverty in Haiti has taken a backseat to the current political unrest, it has set the island’s economic development back years. However, foreign aid from both the United States and other countries has been helping get Haiti back on its feet.

Residual Struggles from the Earthquake

In 2010, Haiti experienced a massive earthquake that left many without homes or income. The earthquake cost many lives and also hit farmers hard. Massive aftershocks that still exacerbate the island’s financial woes arrived after the earthquake. In order to move forward, Haiti relied on donations and volunteer work from other countries. However, a large portion of the billions donated disappeared due to corruption, and as the world’s attention shifted elsewhere, people once again forgot Haiti.

COVID-19’s Economic Impact on Haiti

Following the setbacks of the massive 2010 earthquake, the island began to make slow strides toward improvement. Between 2000 and 2012, extreme poverty declined from 31% to 24%. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Haiti is once again seeing increasing rates of extreme poverty. The country has also begun to see a high number of COVID-19 cases that are “threatening to overwhelm Haiti’s fragile health care system.”

Though reported COVID-19 cases in Haiti are increasing, the overall number remains comparatively low. The recent increase was due largely to increased access to COVID-19 testing. However, as cases begin to spike, Haiti lacks the financial ability to buy COVID-19 vaccines, instead relying on donations from other countries and the World Bank.

COVID-19’s Political Impact on Haiti

As Haiti continues to battle COVID-19, it is also in the midst of political unrest that the assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Moïse caused. For many, COVID-19’s impact on poverty in Haiti is a low priority because of more pressing issues such as kidnappings, political turmoil and natural disasters.

Public Awareness and Health Needs

Following the assassination of President Jovenel Moise, the country is on the verge of a public health emergency. The impact of COVID-19 on poverty in Haiti has lost its place as a top priority due to the country’s current political turmoil. The fear of war, famine, corruption and outside interference has left the country at a standstill. However, in July 2021, U.S. President Joe Biden donated 500,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine to Haiti. According to Dr. Jacqueline Gautier, a member of the national technical advisory group on COVID-19 vaccination, “Because COVID-19 did not impact us badly, people don’t think it is worth it actually.” This came after fears of vaccine side effects from AstraZeneca spread throughout the island.

Haiti’s economic advancement and wellbeing rely on the generosity of other countries. According to some scholars, France should be a key player in aid to the country since it has exploited Haiti the most.

Another pressing issue is the lack of vaccine promotion in the country. The disconnect between the public and health officials has contributed to the lack of awareness and understanding of the virus and the vaccine. As the Haitian government continues to try and prevent the country from dropping further into unrest, it will be extremely important for the government to educate its citizens on how important COVID-19 awareness is.

Under the leadership of former Haitian president Jovenel Moise, government reform and reshaping government affairs played a key role in combatting the COVID-19 crisis. Unfortunately, President Moise’s death has placed Haiti’s progression to a halt. It is now up to the international community to unite and extend care to Haiti. With vaccine donations coming in from major powers such as the United States and China, Haiti still has a chance to see its vaccination rate improve while also getting the COVID-19 crisis under control.

Jordyn Gilliard
Photo: Unsplash

Generation Equality Forum, Working Toward Gender Equality Around The WorldFrom June 30 to July 2, the United Nations Women held a global meeting in Paris consisting of representatives from around the world. This meeting was called the Generation Equality Forum and aimed to assess the progress the world has made in terms of gender equality.

What is the Generation Equality Forum?

The global meeting brought together the U.N. Women, the governments of Mexico and France and a total of 50,000 people in order to create an action plan for the immediate progress for global gender equality. The forum had some target areas that the representatives wanted to focus on discussing. These areas included gender violence, economic justice, autonomy, reproductive health, climate justice action taken by feminists and feminist leadership.

The Beijing Women’s Conference 1995

According to U.N. Women, the World Conference on Women in Beijing 25 years ago marked a “turning point for the global agenda for women’s equality,” as it resulted in the adoption of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action. This declaration set out goals for the advancement of women and gender equality and included a plan to meet again in 25 years to reassess. As a result, the main goal of the forum this year was to look at how far the world had come since 1995.

The 25-year review showed further global progress can be made to advance gender equality, especially amid COVID-19. In fact, studies found that countries will need to implement significant action to meet their gender equality goals by the target year of 2030. The main reason for this lack of progress: a corresponding lack of funding.

Why Decreasing the Gender Gap is Important

The COVID-19 pandemic is disproportionately affecting women. This has affected their education, employment and health. As a result, decreasing the gender gap is more important than ever today. By making women a focal point of economic recovery plans, the world can rebuild the economy equitably.

Additionally, women become affected by poverty at much higher rates than men. For example, women do almost three times the amount of unpaid work than men do, which usually involves childcare and housework. Moreover, 62% of women worldwide are active in the workforce compared to 93% of men. As a result, women from the age range 25-34 are 25% more likely to live in extreme poverty. If the world were to close this gap, the global GDP could increase by 35% on average. Helping women around the world and improving gender equality works to help all people around the world.

Looking to the Future

The Generation Equality Forum created a five-year action plan to stimulate change going forward at a quicker rate than before. This involved $40 billion of investments and commitments from various governments and organizations. Some of these commitments include:

  • U.S. government’s commitment of $175 million to prevent and address gender violence
  • Malala Fund’s commitment of $20 million for girls education activists
  • Open Society Foundation’s commitment of $100 million over five years for feminist political mobilization
  • Government of Bangladesh’s commitment to increase women participation in technology to 25% by 2026
  • Implementation of free care for pregnant women in Burkina Faso

The Generation Equality Forum helped countries, agencies and organizational renew global commitments to gender equality goals. While there is still a long way to go to achieve gender equality around the world, the forum has made progress in setting specific, concrete goals for countries to strive toward.

Closing the gender gap will help to raise women around the world above the poverty line and stimulate economies around the globe. It is pertinent that the world continues to fight for equality and make progress as they have with this forum.

Alessandra Heitmann
Photo: Flickr

Examining Disability and Poverty in FranceDisability is affecting 12 million people in France. Limited mobility and sensation not only prevents disabled people from normal daily and professional life but they also lead to a higher risk of poverty. According to Eurostat, disability and poverty in France go hand in hand. In 2018, 21% of the French population over 16 years old with a disability were at risk of poverty or social exclusion, compared with less than 15% of those with no limitation. This considerable gap exists across the European Union, although the proportion of each member state varies significantly. On average, the possibility for a disabled EU citizen to suffer from poverty is about 10% greater than that of their counterparts.

Governmental Policies

In 2018, the French government rolled out a comprehensive and interministerial policy to increase resources available to the disabled population and to improve their living conditions. This policy embraced housing, health, education, work, transport as well as access to culture, sport and recreational activities. In the following five years, the government determined to provide disabled people with a preferential allocation of social housing for rent, develop health prevention among disabled people and enhance the status of healthcare workers and reduce the gap between the unemployment rate among citizens with disabilities and non-disabled people.

Allowance for Disabled Adults (AAH)

Regarding the correlation between disability and poverty in France, the French government has already achieved its 2019 goal of increasing the Allowance for disabled adults (Allocation aux adultes handicapés/ AAH) to €900 per month. AAH is a minimum-income awarded to people over 20 years old with severe disabilities rated by the Committee for the Rights and Self-dependency of Disabled Persons (CDAPH).

A French resident with a disability severity rating of at least 80% can benefit from AAH for a period of one to 10 years, depending on each particular case. For those rated between 50% and 79% with a substantial reduction of access to employment, they are eligible for AAH for one to five years. As of 2020, the maximum AAH is €902.70 per month, with annual income ceilings of around €11,000 for a person living alone and around €20,000 for a couple.

Facilities and Mobilities

French law requires that all new buildings and existing public buildings must be adapted and accessible to people with disabilities. The transformations have to take some time, yet large cities such as Paris and Lyon and some popular touristic regions have become much more accessible in recent years. For example, all buses in Paris are now equipped with platforms facilitating passengers with limited ability to get on and off more easily. Additionally, any disabled resident of France can request a carte mobilité inclusion (CMI) that grants them priority access to seating in public transport and free parking.

Although the government and social organizations are taking various actions to improve the well-being of people with disabilities and poverty in France, the current situation is hardly satisfying. Joncour, a 19-year-old university student and non-verbal autistic, complains that the departmental home for people with disabilities (MDPH) can only grant him three hours a day of subsidized personal assistance. The remaining hours cost the family about €1,000 per month so that he can go to class and have a normal life like his peers. This expense has enormously impacted the daily life of the family and sadly drove them to a precarious position. There is still a long way to go to improve the living standards of those with disabilities and poverty in France. Hopefully, after the five-year term of the new policies, the living conditions of disabled people will significantly improve in France.

Jingyan Zhang
Photo: Flickr

Z EventEven though the world is more connected than ever, poverty remains a large problem as many people are left behind. Fortunately, the internet has been used as a platform for change, resulting in unprecedented awareness of global poverty. One example of this is Z Event, a French charity project hosted annually on the live streaming website Twitch. Z Event started with just two people who wanted global change. The video gaming event has been shattering world records and raising millions of dollars for charity.

Twitch Live Stream Platform

Z Event would not have been possible without the rise of the Twitch platform. Twitch is a website that people can use for live streaming. This means that whatever viewers are watching is happening in real-time. This creates a new world of interactivity. While Twitch was originally created for live streaming video games, the website has now expanded into other genres like art, music and chess. Twitch now has a massive following, with over 140 million monthly users.

It was only a matter of time before content creators used Twitch as a platform to raise money for charity. In July 2013, Summer Games Done Quick raised $257,181 for Doctors Without Borders in a charity stream on Twitch. As Twitch started growing in popularity, charity streams became even more popular. In 2019, Twitch streamer “DrLupo”, raised more than $2.3 million for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in 24 hours.

Video Gaming: Z Event

With the success of charity streams in the past and the increasing global presence of Twitch, the time was right for Z Event. In March 2016, a charity stream called “Avengers Project” raised 170,000 euros for Save the Children. The goal of the project was to gather every popular French streamer to raise awareness for certain issues. While the project started small, the annual event grew considerably. In 2017, the now named “Z Event” raised 500,000 euros. Z Event is the annual charity event by French streamers ZeratoR and Dach. As the project grew larger, more popular French streamers joined the event. In 2020, 41 Twitch streamers participated in the event.

Video Gaming for a Cause

While each individual streamer is popular on their own, their platform increases exponentially when combined. In 2020, the event had an average of 248 thousand viewers with a peak of nearly 700 thousand viewers. This large amount of awareness led to large sums of money raised for charity. In 2019, Z Event hit the world record for most money raised in a charity stream on Twitch, over 3.5 million euros. In 2020, Z Event shattered its own record, raising over 5.7 million euros, which is approximately $6.7 million.

Each year, the event raises money for a different cause. The money raised in 2019 was for the Pasteur Institute, a nonprofit organization that researches diseases. In 2020, Z Event raised money for Amnesty International, an organization focused on global human rights.

Video Gamers Uniting for Charity

These efforts have been applauded by many. Mark Hamill supported Z Event on Twitter and President of France, Emmanuel Macron has also commended the project.

While poverty remains a problem in the world today, the growing platform of the internet along with websites like Twitch show significant promise. Millions of dollars have been raised for charity to fight poverty. France’s Z Event shows that when people come together, the impact is substantial.

– Evan Weber
Photo: Flickr

Top 6 Facts about Child Poverty in FranceChildren are among the first victims of poverty. Even in France, one of the world’s most affluent countries, child poverty is still a serious issue today, if not an increasingly urgent emergency. Here are six facts about child poverty in France.

6 Things to Know about Child Poverty in France

  1. According to a 2015 report by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), one out of five children under 18 years old in France live below the poverty line. This means that more than three million children in France suffer from their parents’ financial weakness and live on less than about €1000 per month, with many of them actually living on much less. This statistic is astonishing especially considering that the total population of poverty in France was 8.8 million in 2017.
  2. In France, 20% of households have difficulties paying for their children’s meals at the school canteen. To cope with this problem, French President Emmanuel Macron announced an €8 billion national anti-poverty plan in September 2018. As a result of this plan, primary schools provided free breakfast to the poorest students as well as subsidized lunches for €1 each in the school canteen.
  3. Child poverty in France is closely related to single-parent families who usually lack financial sources than the rest of the population. One-third of impoverished children live in single-parent families, especially those made up of single women and children. As of 2018, single mothers are among the most affected by poverty in France, before immigrants and elderly people. The fraught financial situation and high educational expenses have sadly led some young women to pay for their children’s studies through prostitution. The students’ union SUD Etudient estimated in 2006 that the number of single mothers struggling to pay for their children’s’ education was around 40,000 and continues to rise.
  4. The impoverished family background may reproduce further inequalities in education and employment. According to the 2015 UNICEF report, 140,000 children were dropping out of school each year. UNICEF also criticized France’s educational system, in which children from unprivileged families have less chance to enter universities, for failing to gear up social mobility and widening the gap between the rich and the poor instead. It estimated that it takes six generations for children born in impoverished families to attain an average income in France.
  5. There are about 30,000 children in France who are homeless and 9,000 who live in slums, many of whom are foreigners without legal status. The charitable organization Secours Catholique, which helps more than 67,000 impecunious people in need in France, claims that more than 40% of the families they assisted are immigrants, and only less than half of them have legal status in France. As a result, they do not have the right to work or benefit from social welfare.
  6. Nevertheless, thanks to its social service and healthcare, France remains one of the countries with the lowest child mortality rates despite its issue of child poverty. In fact, the 4% rate of child mortality in France is the same as that in Germany, Spain and Italy, lower than 6% in Canada and 8% in the United States.

These six facts about child poverty in France shed light on the growing poverty problem in a country that is as wealthy as France. However, by shedding light on child poverty in France the government and charity organizations will work to alleviate youth poverty in its early stages.

Jingyan Zhang
Photo: Flickr 

The Growing Concern of Elderly Poverty in FranceSince the early 1970s, the mean standard of living for senior citizens above 65 years old in France has significantly improved. Complying with the guidelines that the second U.N. World Assembly on Aging (WAA) in 2002 and the Madrid International Plan of Action on Aging (MIPAA) brought up, France keeps implementing aging policies that focus on the health and well-being of elderly people, their participation and benefits in the social development and a more enabling and supportive environment. However, elderly poverty in France remains a socioeconomic issue. As of 2012, 17.5% of French people are over 65 years old, whereas working-age people between 15 and 64 take up 63.8% of the total population. A 2019 study reported that around one out of 10 elderly people in France lives in poverty, which is to say, there are now more than one million French people of old age living below the poverty threshold.

Wealthier than the Younger Population

Although elderly poverty in France is a significant issue, senior French citizens are not the most susceptible group to poverty. The elderly population is far behind young adults, females and immigrants in terms of one’s risk of poverty. The French National Institute of Statistics and Economic Studies (INSEE) reported that in 2015, elderly people over 65 years old are not only half as likely to fall into the lowest-earning 10% as their counterparts between the ages of 25 and 64, but their proportion among the lowest-earning 20% also decreases in the 21st century.

Such situations are the comprehensive outcome of more continuous career and higher wages, higher retirement pensions, mandatory supplementary schemes and so on. They also have more time and opportunity for inheritance and savings, and their forms of resources are less sensitive to economic fluctuations. As such, it is not too hard to understand why the mean standard of living for elderly people is 3% higher than that for the younger generations in France.

Health Status

Yet despite accumulated wealth, health status deteriorates remarkably with age, which may cause extra expenses that Social Security does not cover and lead to elderly poverty in France. In 2015, 43% of French people over 65 years old endured at least one long-term illness, and the percentage keeps rising over the years.

When the deterioration in health causes a partial loss of autonomy and home care is no longer suitable, the elderly people have to live in an institutional setting such as a nursing home, and this would be another large expense that many are not able or not willing to afford. Only fewer than 2% of people aged below 75 live in a nursing institution, and for those over 85 years old, the number climbs to ten times higher.

The Incoming Challenge of Population Aging

As the problem of population aging is becoming increasingly serious in Europe, it is too early for the elderly to be too optimistic. In 2012, there were 15 million French people aged over 60 years old, and this number is expected to reach 24 million in 50 years, alongside the extended life expectancy. Over the last decade, more people went into retirement, and there were 5% of elderly people aged between 65 and 74 still in employment, many of whom were part-time employees with low qualifications, shopkeepers and older farmers.

The French government has to adjust the retirement pension and health care policies to ensure the well-being of old age. So far various actions are underway, but the results are far from satisfying. For instance, a large national strike began in December 2019 to protest against President Macron’s pension system reform. The government must take into consideration the growing elderly poverty in France and actively work to alleviate poverty rates with policies and financial support.

Jingyan Zhang
Photo: Flickr

Period Poverty in FranceMenstruation shame and period poverty have become hot topics in France in recent years. Monthly tampons, pads and menstrual pain medications can be a heavy financial burden for an impoverished woman. As Règles élémentaires, a leading charitable association fighting against period poverty in France estimates, a woman has to spend around €10,000 to €20,000 on menstrual products in her lifetime.

Multiple campaigns took place in the early 2010s to appeal for more affordable sanitary products, mainly by calling for the lowering of the tampon tax. At the time, tampons were taxed as a luxury item, at 20%. In 2016, France became the first country in Europe to reduce the tampon tax to 5.5%. This brought menstrual products in line with other primary-need products such as shampoo or toilet paper.

The Labour Code in France states that an employer must “provide workers with the means to ensure their individual cleanliness.” However, according to the French Institute for Public Opinion (IFOP), there are still 1.7 million French women suffering from period poverty in 2019.

Feminist Organizations

Règles élémentaires has been collecting hygiene products for impoverished women in need since 2015. It is the first French association that fights against period poverty as well as menstrual taboo. The success of this association soon inspired many more initiatives in France to address period poverty. For instance, a grocery store at Paris-Diderot University offers sanitary products at only 10% of the selling price to students with economic difficulties.

The student health insurance company, La Mutuelle Des Étudiants (LMDE) started to include sanitary protection reimbursement for up to €20-25 per year. A women’s health charity, ADSF, distributes sanitary kits to women in need. This especially targets homeless shelters where women are often too reluctant to ask for them. “We now know that sanitary pads must be included in the kits distributed at shelters – and not just razors, as used to be the case when people associated homelessness with males only,” the group explains.

Government Policies

The feminist organizations and their activities gradually brought period poverty to the government’s attention. Two members of France’s National Assembly drafted a 107-page report on how to lift menstrual taboos and alleviate period poverty. After the report, Gender Equality Minister Marlène Schiappa and her colleague Christelle Dubos announced in early 2020 that the French government will carry out a one-year trial of free distribution of hygienic products for women in schools, hospitals, shelters and prisons. The budget will be €1 million. The initiative will start in the Île-de-France region as soon as the end of October 2020. In the first phase of the experiment, the region has chosen 31 high schools based on their overall percentage of female students and scholarship recipients. The regional government will provide these chosen schools free organic sanitary products and dispensers.

French menstrual activists are still advocating that social security should cover all menstrual products, as it does for condoms. They have also devised a plan of vouchers and pre-paid cards for women in need to make their own intimate choices, rather than the government deciding which product they should receive.  While great strides have been made to alleviate the financial burden and social stigma as it pertains to periods, there is much more to do to further alleviate period poverty in France.

Jingyan Zhang
Photo: Flickr

parliamentary governmentsA parliamentary government is a system of governance that ensures democratic ideals. National parliamentary governments create laws for its citizens, while international parliamentary institutions govern globalization.

What is the Difference Between the Two?

National parliamentary governments create laws for their nation that applies to citizens. International parliamentary institutions are organizations that allow officials to represent their country in worldly discussions and bring awareness to global problems.

A parliament is a democratic system of government. A national parliament is a means in which a country governs its people and creates laws. More countries have started actively participating in international parliaments due to globalization. An international parliament does not have the power to govern countries but instead uses diplomacy to influence world governments.

What is a Parliamentary Government?

Great Britain laid the groundwork for a parliamentary system in the 1200s, and today more than 51 countries use parliamentary governments to represent citizens and pass laws.

A select number of parliamentary governments, such as Great Britain, are aligned with a monarchy. In a constitutional monarchy, a king or queen is the head of state but retains no political power. A few governments, such as France, are a hybrid of both a presidential system and a parliamentary system.

The main feature of parliamentary governments is the power of the legislative branch and the inclusion of the executive branch. Most parliamentary governments have a two-chamber or bicameral procedure to pass laws, although some may have a unicameral parliament. Citizens directly elect members of parliament; however, citizens do not elect the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister is voted into office by the party who obtains the majority of members of parliament. The Prime Minister is the executive leader, who also participates in legislative lawmaking activities. This is different from a presidential system, in which the legislative branch and the executive branch are separate.

A parliamentary system is known to be effective due to its accountability and responsiveness. If the majority party becomes disliked, the Prime Minister can instantly be removed with a vote. This holds members of parliament responsible for their actions. Within a presidency, the system of checks and balances may result in gridlock. The power of the legislative branch in a parliamentary system results in a faster way to pass laws.

Growth of International Parliamentary Institutions

The number of international parliamentary institutions is growing, as the world becomes more interconnected. The first international parliament, the Inter-Parliamentary Union, was established in 1889. Later, the aftermath of World War II resulted in the need to resolve conflicts peacefully. The idea of international parliamentary institutions became a means to represent a country and its concerns, on a world stage. Currently, there are around 70 International Parliamentary Systems.

As globalization becomes more prevalent, international parliamentary institutions play a greater role in global affairs. It can be challenging for an ordinary citizen to voice their concerns to other countries. With international parliamentary institutions, parliamentarians represent their citizens globally.

International parliamentary institutions create awareness of global issues. Global issues include “environmental problems, nuclear disarmament, corruption, women’s rights, and population growth”. When these universal problems produce national concerns, countries collaborate with one another or with non-governmental organizations (NGOs) through international parliamentary institutions. This builds new relationships to solve matters, and country representatives then counsel their national governments. Although most international parliamentary institutions cannot enforce laws on nations, creating awareness brings societal change. Citizens who acknowledge these international issues can advocate for new laws within their own government.

The NATO Parliamentary Assembly and the European Union Parliament are examples of highly influential international parliamentary institutions. Currently, the United Nations is proposing the idea of an international parliamentary assembly, so all countries can participate in policymaking with non-governmental organizations (NGOs).

This article highlights why national governments and international institutions favor a parliamentary system. National parliaments are successful in promoting democracy in governments. As the world becomes more connected, international parliamentary institutions serve as a forum between governments to solve global problems and ensure peacekeeping.

– Hannah Nelson 
Photo: Flickr