Several hundred women gathered in Paris on Sunday. Some wore red Phrygian caps, many waved yellow balloons. They sang the Marseilleise national anthem on the steps of Opera Bastille and chanted their version of the familiar refrain “Macron tu es foutu, toutes les femmes sont dans la rue” (Macron you’re done for, women are in the street).
"By holding the first all-women march, we wanted to communicate other than through violence," Karen, a 42-year old nurse from Marseille, told AFP.
"The only thing the media relays is acts of violence and you forget about the fundamental problem."
Karen is one of the founders of the “Femmes gilets jaunes” (Women yellow vests) facebook page but says today’s protest is not feminist but “aimed at giving the movement an image that hasn't been seen before”.
Act VIII of the yellow vest protests on Saturday brought 50,000 pepole onto the streets according to Interior Ministry figures. Largely peaceful, violence did break out late afternoon between protestors and riot police.
Yellow Vests and Griveaux
⚡SUIVI - Les images de l'engin de chantier qui a défoncé la porte du ministère tournent sur les réseaux sociaux. Le porte-parole du gouvernement Benjamin #Griveaux a été évacué au moment des faits. (📹NC) pic.twitter.com/8cJyXTdRmfBrèves de presse (@Brevesdepresse) January 5, 2019
There were particularly violent scenes on Leopold Sedar-Senghor bridge where a professional boxer beat back riot police. Government spokesman Benjamin Griveaux was evacuated from his offices after protestors rammed open the building’s entrance with a pick-up truck.
Toulouse in south-west France had also seen outbreaks of violence but today some 300 women yellow vests marched peacefully behind a large black banner which read "Précarisées, discriminées, révoltées, Femmes en première ligne" (insecure, discriminated, appalled, women on the frront line). French media reported that police presence remained discrete.
In Caen, in north France, another city marked by violence on Saturday, around 100 women marched, some with children.
"The government wants to portray us as thugs," said one protestor, 28-year old riding teacher Chloé Tessier. "But today we’re mothers, grandmothers, girls, sisters of all citizens, and we want to say that our anger is legitimate.
“It’s during periods of social crisis that women’s rights are most endangered," she added.
In Montceau-les-Mines in the Burugundy region, a young woman held a pushchair with the inscription "I’m a girl and don’t want to have a child in this kind of world".
In Paris, 40 year old Sophie Tissier "single mum with two kids" used a megaphone to talk about living on income support (550.93 euros a month) for over two years.
"It’s very difficult for us, as women, to get in the spotlight in society. But we’re more peaceful than men and we want to act in a non-violent way. Many of us are protesting, we're on the roundabouts, because we’re more affected by growing insecurity on the job market.”
Yellow Vest movement scene VIII