Rima Abdul Malak, Minister of Culture and Isabelle Rome, Minister Delegate for Equality between Women and Men, Diversity and Equal Opportunities, inaugurated on 22 September 2022 at the National Archives, the third meeting of the cycle The Essentials dedicated to the ordinance of 21 April 1944 on women’s right to vote.

At the end of the 1930s, France was one of the few major European countries not to grant women the right to vote. It was not until April 21, 1944, and the signing by General de Gaulle of the ordinance on the organization of public authorities in France after the Liberation, that women finally became «electorate and eligible under the same conditions as men»as stipulated in Article 17. This article is the culmination of a long struggle for women’s civil rights in France.

In 2021, the National Archives launched the The Essentials, which presents the most symbolic documents of our history, strong markers of the past that also question our present, often known by all but never approached in their materiality. After the Declaration of Human and Citizens' Rights of 1789 and the abolition of slavery decree of 1848, it is the1944 ordinance that granted women the right to vote on public display from September 14, 2022 to January 9, 2023. This text was chosen by the public, through an on-site and online consultation, from a list of major documents. Access to these iconic documents is free, as is access to all exhibitions of the National Archives and their reading rooms.

The National Archives, established by the Ministry of Culture, is the largest archives centre in Europe. Memory of France, they preserve and communicate to the public the state archives since the Middle Ages, those of Parisian notaries and private archives of national interest. They contribute to the knowledge of history and to the sharing of civic values with the general public, especially the younger ones, through their exhibitions, publications and other mediation activities.

The exhibition press kit is available for consultation and download below: