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Sarkozy’s ex-wife calls for a French Michelle Obama

Text by Sophie PILGRIM

Latest update : 2013-10-23

In an interview with FRANCE 24 on Monday, Cécilia Attias, the former wife of Nicolas Sarkozy, praised the work of Michelle Obama and pushed for a more influential role for the first lady of France. Watch the interview in full here.

Cécilia Attias, the former wife of Nicolas Sarkozy, said in an interview with FRANCE 24 on Monday that she admires the work of Michelle Obama and hopes France will adopt an official framework for the role of the husband or wife of the country’s president.

Attias divorced Sarkozy six months after he was elected president in 2007 and now lives in New York where she runs a foundation promoting women’s rights. She expressed frustration at her short-lived role as first lady of France.

“Here in France [the first lady] has no status. If she tries to do anything she is more-or-less criticised,” she said.

Asked whether she felt unable to make herself heard in the highest echelon of a noticeably male-dominated political environment, she said she remained “the wife of Sarkozy” and felt she had no support to act on any humanitarian aspirations.

But she dismissed claims that France is a particularly sexist country, saying that the problem of gender inequality needed tackling across the globe.

She described as ridiculous a recent incident in the French parliament when Green Party MP Véronique Massonneau was clucked at by opposition UMP parliamentarian Philippe Le Ray. She said the incident was due to “an individual acting like a kid” rather than an indication of a wider problem in the UMP – Sarkozy’s party – which Attias supports.

Date created : 2013-10-22

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