Who are the women of the Gilets Jaunes movement?

The Gilets Jaunes (Yellow Vests) movement started in late 2018 to denounce the decline of purchasing power in France. About 45% of protesters are women.

Sara Saidi
Sara Saidi NewsMavens, France
Who are the women of the Gilets Jaunes movement? - NewsMavens
Marianne in a yellow vest. Wikicommons

Why this story matters:

According to surveys, the majority of the women taking part in the protests belong to the working class. They are often alone with a dependent at home, and have no previous history of political engagement. 

"Every day, we face problems when we go shopping, when we cook, we deal with money issues, we always juggle with numbers and never complain," says Pascale, a Gilet Jaune from Montpellier.

"Usually women are the silent part of the population but now we are talking," she adds.

Most of the women participating in the movement are younger than 25 or older than 40. According to Mathilde Larrère, historian and expert in revolutionary movements, the fact that women aged between 25 and 40 are absent is explained by the responsibilities attached to this life stage: "At around 30, they have to take care of the kids and the house," she explains.

Retired women also took to the streets "They often had interrupted careers, put on hold because of childbirth, so they receive less money then men after retirement," comments Alexis Spire, director of studies at the French National Center for Scientific Research. 

Details from the story:

  • About 45% of the yellow vests protesters are women.
  • Magali Della Sudda, research manager at the CNRS and Science Po Bordeaux, says that according to the survey of a collective of researchers, the women involved are "women who usually take care of others".
  • Della Sudda concludes that these women took part in the movement because "their job doesn't allow them to take care of others, but on the other hand they need to care for others at home, like their parents or children."
  • Recently feminist artist Deborah de Robertis and 4 other women faced the police bare-breasted to reference Marianne, Godess of Liberty and national symbol of the French Republic.
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