In the wake of sometimes violent protests and clashes with police during the yellow vest demonstrations in Paris and beyond, French women have created a separate movement. The women yellow vests or #femmes #giletsjaunes are pursuing the same issues but distancing themselves from the use of violence that has cast shadows over the #giletsjaunes movement.
Women Yellow Vests
Apart from taking to the Streets of Paris, Toulouse, Caen, Lyon, and beyond, French women have come together on social media to campaign for a variety of issues. What is different about the #femmes #giletsjaunes is that the movement is strictly non-violent. The power of the women’s conviction is impressive.
In the run-up to the first march, the women didn’t fear getting caught up in riots and clashes with the police. To date, the #femmes #giletsjaunes demonstrations took place without any major incidents.
The issues at the heart of this movement are the same: lower taxes and the resignation of the government. In a show of strength and determination, the protestors wanted to emphasize the weight of their conviction and object to the French government’s denunciation of the #giletsjaunes protestors as troublemakers.
Holding up placards stating “Je
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How Did the Women Yellow Vest Protest Come About?
According to a Le Média report, the Paris gathering had been organised through the #femmes #giletsjaunes Facebook page with the venue and time only publicised one hour prior to assembly. The objective was simple: to freely express their demands while avoiding violent clashes at all cost.
At the Place de la Bastille, women of all ages, some with their children, sang the Marseillaise before marching toward la Place de la Republique. A group of men formed a security line in support. One woman explained her attendance to a reporter:
“We are no longer free, there’s no freedom left.”
Another woman described how police and security forces appeared to want to hit the #giletsjaunes. However, she emphasized that the #femmes #giletsjaunes were not afraid but hoped no violence would taint their peaceful protest.
At lunchtime, police officers arrived to prevent the women from making their way through Paris. Having chosen to form the frontline of the demonstration to dissuade police from the use of violence, a handful of women suffered the ill-effects of teargas. One woman picked up a batton lost in battle by a security service officer but decided to return it to him. She even asked if she had accidentally hurt him when handing it back.
Despite some tensions caused by a heavy police presence, the atmosphere throughout the march was one of strength and calm. The women sang songs, among them children and women with disabilities. Drivers trying to make their way through the protests, blew their horns in support.
Speaking to a reporter from Le Média, one woman wearing a yellow hard hat and holding a yellow balloon out of the window of her car explained her reason for supporting the #femmes #giletsjaunes.
(We would like) ”Macron to do whatever is necessary to give less money to those who don’t need it and give it back to the people with middle incomes who want to spend it themselves.”
The women’s claim for lower taxes is entirely justified as they make up more than half of the French workforce. Thus, they bear the brunt of the injustice.
Attending the women yellow vests march, one woman walking alongside her grandparents explained how the movement spans across age, religion, and social background.
The middle income earners have been struggling to make ends meet for quite some time now. Exempt from receiving any state aid, they carry a heavy tax burden while also having to spend on basics like rent, utilities, healthcare, food, and education. Even couples and families with two incomes are struggling to put a roof over their head.
In that sense, the fuel tax that sparked the creation of the #giletsjaunes movement was the straw that broke the camels back.
Not Just Yellow Vests – Liberty Caps Too
Apart from yellow vests, some women also wore a bonnet Phrygian, a liberty cap, associated with the French revolution and a well-known symbol of the French resistance. The cap originates in Roman times when it became associated with the liberation of slaves.
Back in 1798, it was French women who marched, holding up the Cahiers de doléances (notebook of grievances). For the first time, French people felt they had a voice. Historians today believe that the Cahiers played a significant role in the lead up to the French revolution.
This revolutionary spirit of French women has now re-manifested in the #femmes #giletsjaunes movement.
Monsieur le Président take note, the women yellow vests – #femmes #giletsjaunes – are here to stay and may spark another groundbreaking revolution.
The Yellow Vest Movement Is Spreading
Not just French people have worn #giletsjaunes. Anti-austerity and anti-inequality protestors have adopted the yellow vests as a symbol, demanding lower taxes for the working poor and a narrowing of the stark wealth gap.
Yellow vest protests have taken place across Europe and in Canada.
The women yellow vest have inspired a clearer and non-violent approach, thus adding conviction and strength. No doubt, the anti-austerity movement will take courage and find fresh resolve in the fight for equality.