Charter calls for 50:50 female to male ratios on festival and funding commissions, equal pay and an end to onscreen gender stereotypes.

France has launched a sex equality charter for the film industry aimed at improving the number and position of women working in the French cinema sector.

Culture and Communications Minister Aurélie Filippetti, Womens’ Rights Minister and government spokesman Najat Vallaud-Belkacem, Arte France chief Véronique Cayla and National Cinema Centre (CNC) president Frédérique Bredin signed the document at a ceremony at the Culture and Communications Ministry on Thursday (Oct 10).

The five-point charter was put together in association with Le Deuxième Regard, a Paris-based lobby group set up by a trio of young female film producers and sales agents to boost the position of women in the French film industry.

Under the charter, the signatories pledged to ensure an equal ratio of women to men on funding selection committees in their organisations as well as stimulate the creation of projects that “subverted traditional representations of men and women.”

“The CNC selection commissions are already split pretty equally in terms of gender but this is not the case elsewhere in the industry,” said Le Deuxième Regard president Bérénice Vincent, who founded the group alongside Delphyne Besse and Julie Billy

Another of the charter’s key aims is to ensure more gender-based employment statistics for the sector.

“There’s very little precise data breaking down how many women work in the industry and to what level but without this we cannot really gauge the scale of the issue,” said Vincent.

According to basic data in the CNC’s annual production report for 2012, just 25% of the 77 first pictures approved by the body that year were directed by women, despite the fact that the annual intake at French film schools is along 50:50 lines.

“The CNC is schedule to publish its first, comprehensive gender-based report at the end of November. It’s a start but we would also like to see information for the film festivals and private broadcasters which won’t be included in this study,” added Vincent.

The signatories also agreed to do more to ensure that equal pay rights were applied in their own organisations as well as across the sector.

By coincidence, the signing ceremony took place against the backdrop of a sexism row in the French parliament after a “tipsy” male deputy made clucking noises as a female MP made a speech on Tuesday, prompting a walkout by Socialist female deputies on Wednesday. 

Le Deuxième Regard now plans to contact another 50 key companies, institutions, and festivals – including the Cannes Film Festival - to see if they will sign up for the charter too.