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Tuesday, 8 October, 2002, 21:03 GMT 22:03 UK
Figaro for women hits France
Figaro women edition
Women represent half the paper's readership
France's usually staid daily newspaper Le Figaro has broken new ground with the publication on Tuesday of a woman-only edition.

The one-off issue - Le Figaro Femmes - has been put together by women tackling the world's events as seen by women.

Successful businesswomen, female writers and artists were invited to write the articles that filled the issue, which came bundled with the regular edition.


It is a feminine as well as a feminist approach

Dominique Savidan
Women's editor
Le Figaro's women's affairs editor, Dominique Savidan, says that instead of the usual biannual fashion edition which is published to coincide with Paris fashion week, the paper's editorial committee agreed to come up with the special women-only issue.

"We retained the original structure of the paper with the international, politics, society sections, but we got together an editorial committee which included 10 female contributors to cover subjects that inspired us," she told BBC News Online.

Their approach was based on the contributors' personal curiosity rather than any kind of feminist agenda, she says.

"It is a feminine as well as a feminist approach. Feminism is still useful and there are still things to be done to improve women's image, but within an existing framework rather than within marginalised organisations," she said.

"Women are interested in the news, 50% of our readers are women, female readers are very important for us, but their points of view are not sufficiently represented," Ms Savidan said.

Balancing act

The special issue includes a mix of serious news stories - from the male-female wage gap, a profile of US National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, to selective abortions in India.

On the lighter side, it purports a makeover of French Defence Minister and tough gal Michelle Alliot-Marie as well as an offbeat column about the often erroneous perception of women by irreverent writer Virginie Despentes.

The standard Figaro, meanwhile, plastered its front page with stories about politicians mulling tougher sanctions for drivers under the influence of drugs, the blast on a French supertanker off Yemen and the revolt in Ivory Coast.

"Our idea was well received at the paper initially, with a certain dose of irony and interest," said Ms Savidan.

Ironically, the experiment is unlikely to be repeated in the near future, she said, because of the lack of women on the paper.


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