Women and Politics in France

Submitting Institution

Nottingham Trent University

Unit of Assessment

Modern Languages and Linguistics

Summary Impact Type


Research Subject Area(s)

Studies In Human Society: Political Science, Sociology
Language, Communication and Culture: Cultural Studies

Download original


Summary of the impact

Allwood's research into Women and Politics has looked at women's participation in mainstream and alternative forms of political activity; gender and policy, focusing on prostitution, violence and abortion policy; and the political participation of refugee women. The research has informed government advisory panels, think-tanks, and NGOs, in particular in debates around gender quotas and the relationship between gender and democracy. External voices and actors have helped shape the research process, and the audience of this research has made material and distinct decisions based on new insights effectively shared, as demonstrated by citations of research outputs in policy documents and discussion papers.

Underpinning research

This research set out to explore the relation between women and politics in France. It did this in three ways: firstly, by investigating women's participation in mainstream and alternative forms of political activity; secondly, by investigating the relation between gender and policy, focusing on policy issues such as prostitution; and thirdly, by investigating the political participation of marginalised women, focusing on women refugees. The research was carried out between 1998 and 2008, parts of it jointly with Dr. Khursheed Wadia, University of Warwick.

The book, Women and Politics in France (2000), covers women and the state, political parties, trade unions; electoral behaviour and attitudes; women's absence from politics; women in the ecology movement, co-ordinations and feminist politics; increasing women's representation; parity, democracy and citizenship. It brings together for the first time a wide range of statistics and contains a series of original tables.

The research on prostitution forms part of the study of gender and policy in France. It combines policy process tracing and impact assessment, both of which are situated within a context of increasingly security-focused political discourse in France. The research highlights the relation between prostitution policy and anti-migration and anti-migrant measures, demonstrating the particularly harsh impact of new measures on migrant women.

By ensuring that external voices are able to shape research in process, as well as guide it, Allwood's outputs have been crafted in order to achieve the maximum impact for their intended audiences. The study of Refugee Women In Britain And France (2010) began with an expectation that the experience of political activism that these women brought with them from their countries of origin was likely to motivate them to participate in social and political life in their country of destination. Excluded from formal party politics, they find ways to participate in civil society organisations, in particular refugee and migrant associations and humanitarian NGOs. The research involved interviews with refugee women activists and participant observation in refugee women's groups at institutions like the Maison des Femmes in Paris. The research was presented at a public conference at the Sorbonne on 31 January 2006, which brought together academics, practitioners, and service users. This has ensured that the research has been conducted with input from external partners and voices, guiding the research process to ensure that it is best targeted towards achieving policy impact. Likewise, current research on gender and policy in Europe has involved a series of interviews with EU policy makers and Brussels-based NGOs. This is a direct result of translating the approaches to impact outlined in REF document 3a.

References to the research


Women And Politics In France ROUTLEDGE (2000) ISBN/ISSN: 0-415-18493-2


Gender And Policy In France (2009) ISBN/ISSN: 9781403993311

Refugee Women In Britain And France (2010) ISBN/ISSN: 9780719071225


Chapter in book:

`The Construction Of Prostitutes And Clients In French Policy Debates'
In Demanding Sex? Critical Reflections On The Regulation Of Prostitution (2008) ISBN/ISSN:


Women and Politics in France (2000) is widely cited and positively reviewed in the academic literature, including journals in history, politics, European Studies, and French. Allwood's research on prostitution has been positively reviewed in criminology, law, French and gender studies journals. It has led to invitations to contribute to an ESRC and AHRB funded study group and to two edited volumes: Munro and Della Giusta (2008) and Westmoreland and Geetanjoli (2006). The research on refugee women led to an invitation to contribute to Micheline Labelle, Jocelyne Couture, Frank Remiggi (eds) La communauté politique en question. Regards croisés sur l'immigration, la diversité et la citoyenneté, Montréal: Presses de l'Université du Québec (2012).

Details of the impact

Allwood's research has shaped debates, campaigns and decision-making around women in politics and, in particular, the question of women's presence in elected institutions. The impact has been to influence policy debates on the relation between gender and democracy, evidenced by the wide reference to the work in numerous policy documents produced by governments and non- governmental organisations. This research has engaged critically with the `campaign for parity', and had a material and distinct impact on debates around gender parity, women's representation, quota campaigns, legislation, and other forms of public policy in France and in countries including Canada, Spain, and Italy.

The outcomes of Allwood's research into gender quotas were published in Women and Politics in France (Routledge 2000), which has had a considerable enduring impact. The book, as demonstrated by citations, is used as a reference by:

  • Government Agencies (e.g. Saskatchewan Institute of Public Policy 2008),
  • Regional Organisations (e.g. International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance 2013) and
  • Non-government organisations (e.g. the Building Democracy Project 2009).

Chapter 5 of Women and Politics in France, which explains women's absence from politics, was translated into Ukrainian and included in a textbook, Osnovii Demokrati (Fundamentals of Democracy) (2003) produced by the Building Democracy Project, a Canadian and Ukrainian partnership, funded by the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) and Queen's University Canada, to provide Ukraine with a comprehensive programme of professional and post- secondary education about democracy and human rights. In 2009, the book was updated and is used in distance learning courses on democracy which have been created for public servants; courses on democracy and human rights, established as part of the compulsory curriculum in institutions that train internal security personnel for the Ministry of Internal affairs; and on a course on teaching civic education introduced in institutions training new secondary school teachers (http://www.queensu.ca/sps/bdu/foundation.html). The textbook in which her research was printed forms a key resource in this inter-governmental partnership, designed to help Ukraine develop a self-sustaining education program to foster and strengthen commitment to liberal-democracy. Its post-secondary courses have annual enrolments of more than 40,000 students and through a new compulsory Grade XI course it will reach 200,000 students each year. Here, Allwood's research is having a direct impact on the Ukrainian democratic transition, significantly communicating the outcomes of her research on gender and democracy to an international audience and demonstrating enormous reach, whilst playing a part in a project working towards an enduring impact.

The research on prostitution policy led to participation in networks involving beneficiaries from various stake holding groups, from Police Organisations (e.g. Gloucestershire Police and Suffolk Constabulary) to charities (e.g. The Poppy Project and Streetreach). In particular, The Study Group on Prostitution brought together practitioners, policy makers, NGO workers and academics in a series of seminars in 2005 (September, London) and 2006 (September, London and Reading) intended to inform policy. Its results were published in an edited volume Demanding Sex? (2008). Gill Allwood was also invited to contribute to a policy advisory seminar on Legislation to ensure human rights, 16-18 January 2007, Vienna, part of the symposium on women, human rights and prostitution, organised by Barnados, SOVA Women into Work: Moving On, and Sheffield Hallam University http://shura.shu.ac.uk/990/1/fulltext.pdf. The aim of the Symposium was to ensure that women involved in prostitution were considered by policy makers, an aim which was demonstrably achieved by the report's citation in subsequent parliamentary debates.

Allwood's research on refugees, published in Refugee Women in Britain and France (2010), led to an invitation by the French Institute of International Relations (IFRI), the prestigious Paris-based think tank, to participate in the European Task Force on Irregular Migrations (ETFIM), between 2009 and 2011, an initiative funded jointly by the Barrow Cadbury Trust and the Conseil Régional d'Île-de-France.

Allwood's research, which has drawn on a collaborative approach involving external voices and actors, has had a material impact on policy surrounding gender and democracy. This can be seen by copious references to her research outputs in discussion documents which have informed parliamentary debates, think tanks and the policy recommendations inter-governmental organisations.

Sources to corroborate the impact

Women and Politics in France (2000) is cited extensively in Public Policy Paper 56, May 2008, The Saskatchewan Institute of Public Policy (SIPP), Canada: Jocelyne Praud and Karl A. Henriques, `Constitutionalizing and Legislating Parity Democracy: The Cases of France and Belgium', Public Policy Paper 56, May 2008 ISBN# 978-0-7731-0642-0,

It is used as a source in the Global Database of Quotas for Women, a joint project of International IDEA (International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance, an intergovernmental organization) and Stockholm University. Its programmes aim to: provide knowledge to democracy builders; provide policy development and analysis; support democratic reform. Resources for France, 2013 http://www.quotaproject.org/uid/viewSources.cfm?country=53

Allwood's research is also listed on the website of the French government's Haut Conseil à l'Egalité entre les femmes et les hommes (2013) http://www.observatoire-parite.gouv.fr/parite-politique/bibliographie-45/article/citoyennete-et-participation

The research on prostitution is one of four sources for the French country study in the European Parliament's Study on National Legislation on Prostitution, 2005, http://ec.europa.eu/anti-trafficking/download.action?nodePath=/Publications/Study+on+National+Legislation+and+Prostitution_en.pdf&fileName=Study+on+National+Legislation+and+Prostitution_en.pdf&fileType=pdf, itself widely cited as a source for debates and decisions on prostitution and trafficking. This is evidenced by its publication on the European Commission's webpage Together Against Trafficking in Human Beings (10 September 2013) http://ec.europa.eu/anti-trafficking/Publications/Nationand+al+legislation+prostitution