By ilise feitshans • July 13, 2017•Writers in Residence, Issues, Women and Law in the Media, Features, First Women, Superwomen JDs and What You Can Learn From Them
In many places of the world, saying that someone belongs in a Pantheon is an expression, meaning that the individual is great or special. In Paris, France, however, there really is a Pantheon. It is in the student district by the Sorbonne and in its rotunda there are the statues commemorating famous men. Few women, three to be precise, have been honored there among the men - until now.
French society weeps the passing of a great lawyer who defended women’s rights; Holocaust survivor from the concentration camp in Drancy, France; mother of three; loving wife; Minister of Health for the Republic of France; and former President of the European Parliament, Simone Veil.
The death of Simone Veil will bring the fourth woman to the Pantheon following a petition demanding that she be in the pantheon that amassed over two hundred thousand signatures in just a few days. An immortal among jurists, her views about the role of women under law and in real life shaped the future of her contemporaries and posterity. She served in the legislature until just ten years before her death, was given the Grand Croix of the Legion of Honor in 2012, and was named a member of the Academy Francaise that oversees the quality of language for all of France in 2008. The nation will honor her lifetime of lawyering, recognizing her intelligence, her beauty and her strong passion for her work.
For the women who are a generation or two or three younger than her, who nonetheless face her same pioneering struggles for the right to have a professional career in the law as well as a home with children, her achievements are indeed monumental and worthy of their place in the Panethon.