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IRIS 2010-7:Extra

Parliamentary Assembly

Recommendation and Resolution on Combating Sexist Stereotypes in the Media

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Emre Yildirim

Institute for Information Law (IViR), University of Amsterdam

On 25 June 2010 the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) adopted Resolution 1751(2010) and Recommendation 1931(2010), both of which are entitled “Combating Sexist Stereotypes in the Media”.

The Resolution notes and deplores the fact that women are victims of sexist stereotypes in the media. They are under-represented and the subject of persistent sexist stereotypes in the media based on the roles traditionally assigned by society. This forms a barrier to gender equality. The sexist stereotypes are conveyed in various forms such as humour and clichés and are trivialised and tolerated under the banner of freedom of expression. The consequence is that these stereotypes have an unmistakable impact on the formation of public opinion and may facilitate or legitimise the use of gender-based violence.

According to the Resolution, the media has a particular responsibility to promote, inter alia, equality between women and men. There should be no place for sexism in the media, just as there is none for racism or other forms of discrimination. Besides the positive role that the media can play, the Resolution notes that education and training are absolutely essential towards learning how to recognize, be aware of and overcome stereotypes.

The Assembly calls on Member States to strengthen training and education activities by a broad range of measures which, inter alia, consist of awareness-raising, self-regulatory mechanisms and education in schools. It also calls for measures to promote the visibility and importance of women in the media. The Assembly furthermore calls on National Parliaments to, inter alia, adopt legal measures and provide for adequate remedies in cases of gender-based discrimination. Finally the Assembly calls on the media to raise journalists’ awareness of gender equality within their work, to promote gender equality in regulatory and self-regulatory authorities and to favour a non-stereotyped representation of women and men.

In a subsequent Recommendation on the matter, the Assembly emphasises again that education and the media play a key role in combating sexist stereotypes. Upholding the principle of non-discrimination is not sufficient according to the Assembly and positive obligations on states are important for guaranteeing the right to gender equality. Therefore the Assembly invites the Committee of Ministers to, inter alia, draw up a European code of good practice and a handbook for the media for combating sexist stereotypes.

Resolution 1751(2010) of the Parliamentary Assembly on combating sexist stereotypes in the media, adopted on 25 June 2010 EN
Recommendation 1931(2010) of the Parliamentary Assembly on combating sexist stereotypes in the media, adopted on 25 June 2010 EN