'Women's time has come', Royal tells voters

5th April 2007, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, April 5, 2007 (AFP) - Socialist presidential candidate Segolene Royal told French voters Thursday that "women's time has come", urging them to back her bid to become France's first woman head of state.

PARIS, April 5, 2007 (AFP) - Socialist presidential candidate Segolene Royal told French voters Thursday that "women's time has come", urging them to back her bid to become France's first woman head of state.

"Women's time has come, and I hope that the French will have the audacity to prove it in the presidential election," she told a forum in Paris organised by the women's magazine Elle and addressed by all the main candidates.

"When there is progress for women, it also means progress for men, it means progress for the whole of society," Royal told the gathering at the Sciences Po political science institute.

Asked to spell out three key measures she would take in women's favour if elected, Royal promised a framework law against domestic violence, universal public childcare for toddlers, and compulsory schooling from age three.

A 53-year-old mother of four, Royal is trailing slightly behind right-wing candidate Nicolas Sarkozy, 52, ahead of the April 22 first round.

Royal has proclaimed that she is bringing a woman's touch to politics and complained of sexist hurdles barring her road to the presidency, but polls show the candidates are drawing almost equal support from men and women.

Sarkozy, who has promised to share cabinet posts equally between men and women if elected, told the forum earlier he would call a national consultation with business and labour leaders to stamp out male-female wage inequalities.

He also promised to create a legally enforceable right to childcare -- provided either by the state, at home or in the workplace, by 2012, to allow mothers the freedom to return to work.

In third place in the race, the centrist Francois Bayrou, 55, attacked Royal's plans to offer universal childcare as creating "yet another public service" and called instead for more targeted measures to solve childcare problems.

Women make up more than half -- around 53 percent -- of the 44.5 million voters called to vote later this month. A run-off vote between the top two candidates is scheduled for May 6.

One of the last western countries to grant women the right to vote, in 1944, France marked a milestone when Edith Cresson became its first woman prime minister in 1991 under Francois Mitterrand. She resigned less than a year later.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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