Friday, December 15, 2006

From Miserable Beginnings to the Top of the World

If what wikipedia reports is true, Ségolène Royal certainly had one of those childhoods straight out of Roald Dahl or Charles Dickens. Apparently, her father never wanted daughters and looked at them as slaves and baby machines. "I have five children and three girls." Ouch. She had to fight with him just to get the privilege of completing high school. I've come across men who had this type of attitude before - my husband's grandfather didn't see the point in schooling a woman past high school and fought tooth-and-nail with his eldest daughter before she finally was allowed to earn her teaching certification. But high school? Compulsory high school education was instituted by Napoleon--you'd think any conservative Gaul worth his salt would advocate it.

Rising above those sorts of horrible influences and experiences certainly qualifies Ségolène to be seen as a role model, particularly among the young Magrebine women that now live in virtually every city in France. As a pied noir herself, Ségolène has a unique angle on the current presidential race - she has witnessed colonialism firsthand and could quite possibly become a voice for the marginalized citizens of her country. She has already served as a voice for other marginalized groups, including women and the handicapped.

It would be such a great victory for women everywhere if Ségolène were elected to govern one of the world's major powers.

Photo: Ségolène Royal being greeted by a Tahitian during the France-Oceania Summit in June 2006. (courtesy Tahitipresse)

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

The Rewards of Bureaucratic Inefficiency

I just finished reading in The Times (of London) about the continuing practice of granting "jackpot bonuses" to French civil servants who decide to retire to French Polynesia or an island in the Indian Ocean. The practice is trying to be stopped, but with elections coming up so soon, Chirac doesn't want to upset the old-timers that do so much of the voting...

I've always said that France had the best employment deals out of any country, period. No one minds about paying higher prices from everything from candy bars to gasoline if it means a living wage for all. Of course, this is above and beyond a "living wage", but it makes me want to move to France and become a civil servant, just so I can essentially get a paid permanent vacation to Taha'a someday!

Sure beats being a civil servant in the US...sure, some of the jobs might be a little more glamorous than others, but how'd you like to be stuck working in a mailroom in the basement of the Pentagon for 40 years, only to retire and not be able to afford the medication you need for the stress injuries you've acquired over years of repetitive motions? Seriously, I would be Chirac's personal ashtray valet any day...