Mitterrand, Danielle (1924—)

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Mitterrand, Danielle (1924—)

Former first lady of France and human-rights activist. Born Danielle Gouze in 1924; married François Mitterrand (president of France, 1981–95, died January 8, 1996); children: two sons.

Danielle Mitterrand, who for more than half a century was married to François Mitterrand, France's longest-serving president, is an important and committed human-rights activist, well known for her work on behalf of the Kurdish citizens of Iraq. Never afraid of controversy, in 1986 she founded France Libertés, a humanitarian organization that agitated foreign governments with its outspoken support for dissidents and ethnic minorities. France Libertés is recognized by the French government and consults with the United Nations Economic and Social Council.

François left office in May 1995, after a 14-year Socialist presidency. That year Danielle donated about 150 pieces of never-worn jewelry, which she had received from various heads of state during her term as France's first lady, to be auctioned for benefit of France Libertés. She had always promised that the pieces (then estimated at a value of about $300,000 to $400,000) would be "well-used." After her husband's death the following year, there was much comment in the American press over the fact that his longtime mistress Anne Pingeot and their 22-year-old daughter Mazarine Pingeot attended his funeral along with Danielle Mitterrand. Although Mitterrand wrote in her autobiography, "My husband excelled in the art of seducing the girls who came through here," she was tolerant of his indiscretions, saying, "I think the French, and indeed many people around the world, have had enough of this hypocrisy of conformity."


Bachrach, Judy. "Of Hypocrisy and Lust: When Will Washington Surrender Its Idealism About Sex?" in The Washington Post Magazine. February 22, 1998, p. W18.

The Day [New London, CT]. October 9, 1995, December 6, 1995.

"True life adventures" (book review), in Women's Review of Books. December 1996.

Jacquie Maurice , Calgary, Alberta, Canada