The Recommendation on preventing and combating sexism has been adopted yesterday by the Council of Europe’s Committee of Ministers.
In response to the #MeToo and other recent movements that have heightened awareness of persistent sexism in society, the Council of Europe’s Committee of Ministers adopted the first-ever international legal instrument to stop sexism, which includes the first international definition of sexism.
UWE President Anne Nègre, as the representative of the Conference of INGOs, was in the writing group and is very happy of this result.
The recommendation stresses that sexism is a manifestation of “historically unequal power relations” between women and men, which leads to discrimination and prevents the full advancement of women in society.
Because it is “widespread and prevalent in all sectors and all societies, and (…) sexism and sexist behaviour are rooted in and reinforce gender stereotypes,” sexism is defined for the first time ever in a dedicated legal instrument to tackle it, via a comprehensive list of measures and areas where sexism occurs, from advertising and media, to employment, the justice sector, education and sport. The text in particular aims to shed light on what sexist behaviour is and proposes concrete ways for different actors to identify and address them.
It requests that member states monitor progress in implementing its guidelines and to inform the Council of Europe’s Gender Equality Commission of measures taken and progress achieved.
The recommendation aims to address issues with which women, but also sometimes, men, are confronted with every day. Notably, it makes the link between sexism and violence against women and girls, explaining that acts of “everyday” sexism are “part of a continuum of violence that create a climate of intimidation, fear, discrimination, exclusion and insecurity which limits opportunities and freedom.”
Examples of recommended action include legislative reforms that both condemn sexism and define and criminalise sexist hate speech, and provide for appropriate remedies for victims of sexist behaviour.
The recommendation calls on states to use awareness-raising measures including “speedy reactions” by public figures, in particular politicians, religious, economic and community leaders, and others in a position to shape public opinion, to condemn sexism.
The recommendation also stresses that language and communication “must not consecrate the hegemony of the masculine model”. It calls for the use of non-stereotypical communication to educate, raise awareness and prevent sexist behaviour. For example, it recommends ending the use of sexist expressions, and using gender-sensitive language.
The recommendation focuses, too, on recent technologies. While the internet and social media can promote free expression and gender equality, they also can allow “perpetrators” to express “abusive thoughts” and engage in abusive behaviour, the recommendation notes.
It takes into account artificial intelligence and how algorithms can “transmit and strengthen” existing gender stereotypes and therefore may contribute to the perpetuation of sexism.
Anne is doing a great job for UWE on the European Social Charter and will give a speech about Equal Pay and the collective complaints at our Conference in Rome. She is the only candidate for the President and will be invited to present herself to be elected at the Annual General Meeting in Rome.
On 24 January, our colleague Anne Nègre – Gender Equality Expert was elected for three years as Vice-President in charge of Equality at the Conference of INGOs. The former President Anna Rurka was re-elected for a 2nd three year term. Congratulations to them, they’ve done a great work!
Meanwhile, for the first time a woman from Bosnia, has been elected as Human Rights Commissioner by the Parliamentary Assembly of the CoE. The PACE has elected María Elósegui Ichaso as Judge at the European Court of Human Rights.
The Gender Equality Commission of the Council of Europe (GEC) helps to ensure gender equality mainstreaming in all policies of the 47 member States. The Committee of Ministers has asked the GEC to prepare a draft recommendation to combat sexism. The final objective is to fight sexism in order to have more equality, less violence, less hate speech and cybercrime etc., in the different member states. As representative of the Conference of INGOs, Anne Negre have been invited to participate in the drafting committee of the draft recommendation. The drafting committee would like to have your opinion on this issue and I invite you to answer the following questions to strengthen our impact in the elaboration of this document:
- What areas do you consider should be covered by a Council of Europe recommendation to prevent and combat sexism?
- Who should be the target groups included in such a recommendation?
- What type of measures would you suggest to be included?
- Could you please highlight good practices in this area?
- Do you have other points?
Please find enclosed links to two documents on the subject. You will also find here an interesting « Kit against sexism »that could be useful in your INGO:
Please feel free to forward these questions to other INGOs or NGOs. The deadline for replies is 1 June 2017.
Please DO NOT SEND YOUR ANSWERS TO NGO-UNIT BUT TO ANNE NEGRE AT: email@example.com