Women and immigrants living in France have been hit hardest in France by the global economic crisis, according to Secours Catholique. Women account for 57 percent of people seeking help from this member organization of the Social Watch network, almost 10 percent more than a decade ago. In the past decade, poverty in France, far from diminishing, has taken root. Getting out of the poverty trap is taking longer than ever before.

In terms of gender equity France places itself above the European average, but behind most of its neighbours.

The world economic crisis hit France’s society quite hard. The economy has recovered somewhat, but unemployment and inequality have worsened and society has become more competitive to the detriment of values like fraternity and solidarity. The country also has pressing environmental problems including air and water pollution and a loss of ecosystems. The State has made commitments to pursue sustainable development, and these should now be re-examined not just from the national or European perspective but in terms of their impact in the world. The country’s presidential elections are looming and this is an opportunity for civil society organizations to make their voices heard in the debate.
If we are to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), every state must demonstrate the political will to formulate the necessary global policies as well as to improve progress on concrete indicators. This will require a new development strategy that recaptures the original spirit of the MDGs, focusing on people’s needs and improving their quality of life; reaching the poorest sectors of society; promoting gender equality; and acting on the premise that the values of well-being and a better quality of life are inseparable.
In France the world crisis has had a direct impact on the people, as it has in all the developed countries – which is where it began. The most obvious effects have been rising unemployment and increased social exclusion, and sectors that not long ago were in a comfortable situation are even suffering food shortages. In addition, because of the crisis and the country’s inability to create new resources for Official Development Assistance, this aid has been cut back sharply and France will not fulfil its commitments in this area.
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