Woman with Down syndrome runs for office in France: 'I am fighting for inclusion'
Human Interest

Woman with Down syndrome runs for office in France: ‘I am fighting for inclusion’

down syndrome, screenshot

Eleonore Laloux has never let Down syndrome hold her back in life. Now, the 34-year-old is taking on a new challenge: running for a local council seat in France’s upcoming municipal council elections. If Laloux wins, she will be one of the first women with Down syndrome in France to hold such a public office.

Laloux has run her campaign primarily by knocking on doors in her hometown of Arras in northern France. With determination and a radiant smile, Laloux is well suited to canvassing. She told the New York Post, “I’ve fought hard to live with Down syndrome. It doesn’t trouble me any longer.” She added, “Now I am fighting for inclusion. Handicapped people have their place in society.”

She said she has “loads of ideas” that she works on daily. Those ideas include audio and brail aides to help the hard of hearing and sight cross streets, electric buses with wheelchair ramps, and dedicated parks for dogs.

 

France has a history of discrimination against people with Down syndrome. It is estimated that 86 percent of babies diagnosed with Down syndrome before birth in the country are killed through abortion. This environment of deadly discrimination prompted France’s Conseil d’Etat to ban the positive and inspiring “Dear Future Mom” commercial in 2016. The reason given was that the sight of happy and smiling children and young adults with Down syndrome featured in the video was “likely to disturb the conscience of women who had lawfully made different personal life choices.”

Despite this environment of prejudice and lethal discrimination against people with Down syndrome, Laloux’s parents raised her to be confident and self-directed. They chose not to place her in a special education school. Her mainstream education and daily challenges to be included have led her to advocate for herself and succeed in her job as a hospital administrator.

READ: Young woman with Down syndrome: UK discriminates against babies like me by aborting up to birth

Running for office is not Laloux’s first time in the public eye. According to the New York Post, she founded Friends of Eleonore, an association which challenges the social stigmas confronting individuals with Down syndrome, and has written a book, “Down Syndrome, So What?”

The mayor of Arras, Frederic Leturque, said of Laloux, “The disability she has, the force of her character, the ideas she has, will make us think differently.”

The first round of elections will be held on March 15.

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