Danielle Mitterrand

Danielle Émilienne Isabelle Mitterrand (née Gouze; 29 October 1924 – 22 November 2011) was the wife of French President François Mitterrand, and president of the foundation France Libertés Fondation Danielle Mitterrand.[1]

Danielle Mitterrand
Spouse of the President of France
In role
21 May 1981  17 May 1995
PresidentFrançois Mitterrand
Preceded byAnne-Aymone Giscard d'Estaing
Succeeded byBernadette Chirac
Personal details
Danielle Émilienne Isabelle Gouze

(1924-10-29)29 October 1924
Verdun, Meuse
Died22 November 2011(2011-11-22) (aged 87)
Paris, Île-de-France
Resting placeCimetiere des Grands-Maisons
Jarnac, France
François Mitterrand
(m. 1944; died 1996)
Children3, including Jean-Christophe Mitterrand


When she was seventeen years old, her family (her parents were teachers) aided the French Resistance and helped lodge men of the Maquis (French Resistance), and she became a liaison officer in the Resistance. She met François Mitterrand there, and married him three months after the Liberation, on 28 October 1944.[1]

She created the France-Libertés Foundation in 1986, when she was First Lady, with the fusion of three smaller associations which had been established in 1981.[1] In 1996 Mitterrand was one of the winners of the North–South Prize.[2]

Mitterrand had three sons: Pascal (who died in childhood), Jean-Christophe and Gilbert Mitterrand.[1]


Mitterrand was a longtime supporter of Cuba and its Marxist–Leninist government.[3] However, during Fidel Castro's 1995 visit to France, she also helped secure the release of imprisoned Cuban dissident Yndamiro Restano Díaz, who was reportedly freed at her request.[4][5] She was also a supporter of the ANC and the anti apartheid movement in South Africa.[6]

She also supported the Sandinistas when her husband gave them military aid in their war against US-backed forces in Nicaragua.[7] She was very critical of Turkey, opposing its accession to the European Union and supportive of the Kurdistan independence movement.[8] She voiced her views in favour of Sahrawi separatists,[9] Mexican insurgent Subcomandante Marcos,[10] and the Tibetan people, among others.

As First Lady, she spoke out against human rights violations, including in countries with which the French government was seeking to maintain good relations; she earned the ire both of the Chinese government and of King Hassan II of Morocco, in particular. Her France-Libertés Foundation provided financial support to local human rights initiatives abroad, and also financed access to medicine and education in poor countries.[1]

She supported a "no" vote in the 2005 French referendum on the European Constitution: "I denounce the power of the economy over people, a system that turns individuals into elements in an economic equation, does not respect the poor and excludes everyone that does not live up to the principle of profitability".[11]


  • These men are first our brothers (Ces hommes sont avant tout nos frères), Ramsay, 1996, on the Indians of Chiapas
  • Torture in Tunisia: Committee for freedom and human rights in Tunisia (La torture en Tunisie : Comité pour le respect des libertés et des droits de l’homme en Tunisie), Le temps des cerises, 2000


The French International School MLF Danielle Mitterrand in Iraqi Kurdistan is named after her.[12]

Foreign honours


  1. "Danielle Mitterrand, les combats d'une militante", Le Monde, 22 November 2011
  2. "The North South Prize of Lisbon". North-South Centre. Council of Europe. Archived from the original on 2008-02-15. Retrieved 2008-01-21.
  3. https://archive.today/20130210023841/http://www.trabajadores.cu/news/ingles/danielle-mitterrand-in-cuba. Archived from the original on February 10, 2013. Retrieved December 9, 2007. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  4. "World News Briefs;Havana Releases A Second Dissident". The New York Times. 2 June 1995. Retrieved 26 January 2012.
  5. Roberto Fabricio (15 October 1995). "Switch Hitting". South Florida Sun-Sentinel. Retrieved 26 January 2012.
  6. MANDELA, Nelson, "The Long Walk To Freedom", 1994, page 523.
  7. http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1282/is_n1_v40/ai_6284469/. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  8. "Cyprus News Agency: News in English (AM), 99-03-10". Hri.org. 1999-03-10. Archived from the original on 2011-06-05. Retrieved 2011-11-22.
  9. "afrol News - Systematic maltreatments revealed in Saharawi camps". Afrol.com. Retrieved 2011-11-22.
  10. Smith, David (11 March 2001). "Mexico waits for the masked crusader". The Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved 1 May 2010.
  11. Francois Mitterrand's Widow Says, "I Will Vote No" Spiegel-Interview with Danielle Mitterrand, 05/23/2005
  12. "Consul Generals discuss developments and initiatives in Kurdistan" (Archive). Kurdistan Regional Government Department of Foreign Relations. Thursday March 15, 2012. Retrieved on April 27, 2015.
  13. Volks krant, State visit of Netherlands in France (Mitterrand), 1991, Group Photo Archived 2016-03-04 at the Wayback Machine
  14. Photo Archived 2016-03-08 at the Wayback Machine of the state in Sweden, Danielle Mitterrand : Polar Star
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