Country Perspectives on Diversity and Equal Treatment
Edited by Alain Klarsfeld
Chapter 5: Equality and Diversity in the French Context
Anne-Françoise Bender, Alain Klarsfeld and Jacqueline Laufer Introduction For a few years now, a national debate has emerged in France around the notion of diversity and to some extent about the issue of diversity as a ‘business case’. While the issue of equal opportunity between men and women had been on the agenda for many years, diversity, and specifically the dimension of ethnic diversity, has come forward in the public debate only in recent years, as a result of an increasing awareness of the difficulties and shortcomings linked to the French model of equality and integration of immigrants and their descendants. Indeed, in France, contrary to the USA and the UK, the issues of equal opportunity and of diversity have developed recently as a result of a new awareness of the difficulties of the French model of equality based on equality of rights for all citizens. Formal equality of rights, according to the republican model, was originally based on a denial of any differences between citizens. The central issue has been for a long time the implementation of equality between men and women, which has its roots in the French Revolution of 1789, and in the French Declaration of Human and Citizens’ Rights (Déclaration des Droits de l’Homme et du Citoyen), which excluded women from the citizenship rights granted to men: liberty and equality (Fraisse, 1995). While ethnic diversity was supposed to be dealt with by the model of integration of all individual citizens in the Republic, transcending...
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