Gender and citizen participation in a rather poor medium-sized town (Sevran, Seine-Saint-Denis, France)

By Anna Jarry-Omarova

The 2014 law on Politique de la ville requires gender parity in citizenship councils. This could embody a tool for the promotion of women in the political field, which is known for being highly discriminatory from this perspective. However, the participant observation in a medium-sized city in Seine-Saint-Denis, Sevran, shows that women were already active in neighborhood councils and in the newly created citizenship councils, despite the reproduction of well-known forms of masculine domination, such as the lack of credit they are granted when they speak up or the non-recognition of the issues that are important to them. The article emphasizes the different roles played by women to promote their concerns (as neighbors, mothers, secular citizens), the specific ways in which they participate, in particular in groups, and the contribution of elected officials and public servants for the enforcement of gender parity, in particular in terms of representation and delegation. In the end, women invest these forms of intermediary spaces in a specific way because they are located at the crossroads of the private realm and the sexist public sphere, and can embody spaces for the redefinition of the latter.


  • gender
  • participatory democracy
  • Sevran
  • Seine-Saint-Denis
  • France
  • women
  • poor area
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