January 16, 2012
At our visit to the 20th arrondissement, we were very well received. Once inside of the Marriage room, where civil marriages were done, we were given beverages and a light snack. We were then told about the paintings that were inside of the room and the meaning behind them. What struck me the most was an old article once existed but has since been amended concerning the roles of the wife and the husband in matrimonial union.
It was also interesting to note the painting on the wall along with this article that clearly depicted enforced gender roles where the men were at work while the women was taking care of the children.
More pleasantly surprising was our actual meeting with the mayor from the 20tharrondisment, Madame Frederique Calandra, and the contrast created as she made her feminist beliefs known.
Our discussion with her concerning the role of women in France’s political environment was enlightening, inspiring but not at all surprising. The reality of the matter is that women make up only 12% of the Assemblée Nationale and 17% of the Sénat; numbers that I find insulting. It was also enlightening, although also disquieting, that some political parties choose to pay a fine rather than have more women as elected officials. However, the meeting with Madame Calandra was inspiring because of the level of competence and dedication she showed for her arrondisment and being involved in really trying to make a difference in the roles that women play.
I was glad that Madame Calandra was as direct as she was. I feel that we were given an honest opinion without all of the formalities that often cloud the level of transparency concerning the reality of how the government works, especially with regards to the inclusion of women.