For the first time, the Court of Auditors is looking into a report on gender equality. Work carried out following a “citizen request made” on the online platform opened by the institution, in spring 2022. Expected by Internet users who pushed this theme, the conclusions of the Sages are severe regarding the deficiencies of the state policy on what was nevertheless established as a “great national cause” during Emmanuel Macron’s first five-year term (2017-2022). In a 75-page document published this Thursday, the Court thus points out, pell-mell, "the absence of an overall national strategy", a lack of "effective management", "errors in method", as well as "limited progress ".
Announcement of 25 measures on November 25, 2017 to combat violence against women, followed by the 40 measures of the interministerial committee for equality between women and men of March 8, 2018, the 46 measures of the Grenelle on domestic violence of November 25 2019, a plan to combat female genital mutilation in 2019... The State's initiatives in terms of equality between women and men over the past six years are (very) numerous, even taking on the appearance of inventory at Prévert. However, they lack a clear orientation and a general vision: if the Court recognizes an “undeniable mobilization”, this above all resembles “a succession of highlights and a superposition of interministerial strategic plans without real coordination”, underline authors.
Beyond this grievance, the measures themselves are also singled out by the Sages of rue Cambon. “Managing equality policy has been made difficult by shortcomings in the design of the measures,” they write. In many cases, they are not based on a precise diagnosis of situations and needs, so that the achievement of a possible quantified objective does not allow one to conclude that a public policy has been successful. Furthermore, in many cases, the measures targeted were not accompanied by means, nor a timetable for implementation, nor results indicators, nor targets, which makes their evaluation impossible. It is difficult to achieve a result if it has not been clearly defined upstream, as well. As examples of measures that are difficult to follow, the Court of Auditors cites the promise to “guarantee access to care for all women in all territories in terms of contraception, perinatal care, prevention and identification of cardiovascular risks, screening of cancers…”, or even that of “improving maternity leave by making it more equitable”.
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The State has not learned lessons from past mistakes, notes the Court of Auditors. In the new interministerial plan for equality between women and men (2023-2027) presented last March, the Sages find exactly the same shortcomings: “absence of a precise assessment drawn up for each measure of the previous plans, measures not articulated with other plans, non-evaluable measures, etc.” The magistrates therefore call for it to be quickly corrected, by turning this plan into “a measurable and evaluable roadmap (means, timetables, indicators, results, targets) subject to an effective interministerial monitoring timetable”.
However, everything is not to be thrown away, the mobilization of the State having made it possible to achieve some notable progress. In the area of the fight against domestic violence, the Court of Auditors highlights “advances” since the 2019 Grenelle. In particular “in terms of the protection of victims [...] as well as support for perpetrators”, notes the report . The distribution of high-danger telephones or the increase in the number of emergency accommodation places for victims are therefore welcomed. However, “other measures requiring long-term investment to change mentalities, such as those relating to prevention based on education, have been little implemented,” adds the document.
On professional equality, the other major public policy which has become a priority over time, the results are “mixed”, the document also points out. In particular, the transition from a logic of means (the obligation to negotiate) to that of a logic of results (achieving a target under penalty of penalty), enshrined in the law, “is not still perceptible,” write the Sages. In the public service, the report highlights the difficulties in feminizing positions of responsibility.
Efforts therefore remain to be made so that the “great national cause” obtains real progress, and not just some “limited progress”. The authors advise in particular to "strengthen the collection of data [...] relating to the diagnoses of situations and needs", and suggest to "design an interministerial program for evaluating the actions carried out by the State and by organizations financed by him". The Court of Auditors summarizes its observations in a formula, harsh for the executive: “Progress in reducing inequalities is slow, despite a growing legislative arsenal for several decades.”