An association to Defend, Promote and Spread women’s rights

NGO with consultant status to UN

President: Mrs. Gisèle HALIMI

The context of its creation

The association Choisir la cause des femmes” was created in July 1971 by Simone de Beauvoir (philosopher, writer and first President of the association), Gisèle Halimi (lawyer), Jean Rostand (member of l’Académie Française), Christiane Rochefort (writer) and Jacques Monod (Nobel Prize of Medicine).
Its original objectives were:

  • The repeal of the repressive statute of 1920 which prohibited abortion;
  • Free defence for women sued for illegal abortion;
  • Legal and free sale to contraceptives.

In 1972, Choisir la cause des femmes supported the famous Bobigny Case. A 16 year old girl, Marie-Claire C… had an abortion with the complicity of her mother. She was judged with her mother and a friend, who had been giving them advises about aborting. Gisèle Halimi was defending her. At the hearing many scientific and literary figures, including Michel Rocard, Françoise Fabian, Simone de Beauvoir and Professeur Paul Milliez, were heard, called by the defence to denounce this “anachronistic” case. After the process started in France an irreversible movement of opinion which was to lead in 1975 to the revision of the law of 1920. The new law, carried out by Simone Veil and the President Valéry Giscard Destain  legalized the abortion.

Up to 1974, the major objectives of the movement were to cover the general status of women in society such as:

  • Struggle against rape, physical and moral violence and cultural sexist schemes;
  • Struggle for equal professional rights;
  • Struggle for a better representation in public life.

Choisir today

Choisir today is always active on national and international levels. The association intervenes in all debates that interfere with women’s rights and participates regularly in international meetings. Fame and reputation of its founding members, and especially Gisèle Halimi, an internationally renown lawyer and writer, which is the present President of the association, as well as all actions taken since 1971 give it an authority and credibility when dealing with public authorities.

Every three months, Choisir publishes a magazine written by the members of the association themselves and dispatched to the adherents in France and abroad as well as to politics, trade unions, associative organizations and medias.

“The clause of the most favoured European women” currently on track

In 2008, the association has published, after several months of research and redaction, “the Clause of the Most Favoured European Women”, this document is a compilation of the most progressive European legislation about women in several areas such as family rights, sexual and reproductive rights, fight against violence, professional and political conditions… The idea is that all countries in the European Union adopt the clause which would bring them to harmonise their legislation on the most progressive and protective conditions for women. In October 2008 (27th and 28th), an international symposium took place, which gave the occasion for Choisir to present the clause and to create a permanent secretary in charged of this programm. Before the European elections of June 2009, all French political parties endorsed the clause (except for the extreme right party, which weren’t consulted). Ever since, the association is working on the realisation of the project. Very good steps have been done at the European Commission and Parliament. The project is very well on track and all our efforts aim to carry it as well as possible.

Several actions taken

Judiciary action
Choisir takes the defence of our legislation about women which might always be questioned :

  • The right to have access to abortion and to the right to give or not birth;
  • The struggle against rape and physical violence;
  • The struggle against discrimination in the professional and political world;

Political action
Choisir acts for a better representation of women in politics:

  • Presentation of women candidates in the general election of 1978 and European election of 1999;
  • Propositions of law carried out by Gisèle Halimi who was elected member of Parliament in 1981 ;
  • Political parity: in 1995, President Jacques Chirac puts into place the French Observatory for Parity. Gisèle Halimi was its President and she prepared a report about the reasons why women are excluded from the major political mandates and how to alleviate this.

In 2000, at long last, a law is voted to put equal rights for men and women to political mandates. But a lot still remains to be done...

Social action
Choisir exercises an action of vigilance and makes the following propositions:

  • About Republic and secularism, in November 2003, Choisir takes position about religious symbols allowed or prohibited at school.
  • About Women’s pension, Choisir, via Gisèle Halimi, warns the Members of the Parliament in July 2003 about the consequences regarding the reform of women’s pension.
  • About Women statute in the EU. Choisir along with other associations in France and Europe demands that the notion of equality between men and women is quoted in the second article of the future European Constitution.

Meeting and media
Choisir organizes meetings, debates and intervenes regularly in the media by the voice of its President and members.

Contact: Choisir la cause des femmes
102, rue Saint-Dominique
75007 Paris FRANCE
Tel: +33 0(1) 47 05 21 48
Fax: +33 0(1) 45 51 56 10