France PM Francois Fillon orders adieu to mademoiselle

image captionThe French government has responded to pressure from campaigners

The term "mademoiselle" is about to disappear from French paperwork.

Under pressure from campaigners, the government has decided that women will not have to choose how to describe themselves on official documents.

Unlike men, women have been forced to choose between a married "madame" or unmarried "mademoiselle".

Feminist groups welcomed the move from Prime Minister Francois Fillon, but noted that in an election year they want to ensure it is applied.

"Everywhere we are asked to declare our marital status. This is not imposed on men, it's not important whether they are married," said Julie Muret of the group, Osez le Feminisme.

Her group also wants candidates for the presidential elections in April to support other pledges reducing the pay gap between men and women, supporting the right to abortion and birth control, and limiting sexist advertising.

Campaigners have been trying to get the term "mademoiselle" removed from French life for years, saying it is a condescending term.

A circular from Mr Fillon's office says the state should no longer be interested in the marital status of women.

It also says the choices of "maiden name" and "spouse's name" will be replaced with "family name".

As with "mademoiselle" the change will apply to documents ranging from tax forms to insurance claims and voting cards.

France does not offer a neutral option like the English "Ms".

It is not an issue for men, whose only choice is "monsieur," whether or not they are married.

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