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International Women's Day 2019 Gender France Women's rights

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France to mark Women's Day with strikes and an inaugural prize

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People gather near the Pantheon before a national tribute to late Auschwitz survivor and French health minister Simone Veil and her late husband Antoine Veil in Paris, France, July 1, 2018. ®REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol

As the world marks International Women’s Day, Friday 8 March, France is set to award its inaugural Simone Veil Prize of the French Republic in honour of the revered politician and Holocaust survivor who died in 2017.


A sum of 100,000 euros will be handed out in recognition of “actions around the world in favor of women's rights". The prize will be given at 10.30am local time, though it’s unclear if the first recipient will be a man or a woman.

Elsewhere Friday, French feminist associations have called a strike, along with trade unions and some political movements. The action has been named “March 8, 3:40pm, time to settle the score,” in reference to the estimated time from which women work for free as a result of the gender pay gap.

In 1911, International Women’s Day was marked for the first time by more than a million people in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland. It has since grown into an festival of marches, ideas and celebrations. This year's theme is #BalanceforBetter.

A French public opinion poll Sunday found that Simone Veil, a former health minister who defended the 1975 law on the legalization of abortion in France, tops the list of personalities who "embody feminism the most”. Veil defeated Michelle Obama and Simone de Beauvoir to take the top spot.