Sunday, April 28, 2019

Specific tools and measures for addressing sexism and sexist behaviour in targeted areas 4/5

II. Specific tools and measures for addressing sexism and sexist behaviour in targeted areas

Some fields of activity are especially prone to acts of sexism and/or to specific forms of sexist behaviour; it is therefore critical to take targeted action to prevent and combat sexism in these areas, in addition to the generally applicable recommended measures and tools listed in the previous section.

 II.A. Language and communications

Language and communication are essential components of gender equality and “must not consecrate the hegemony of the masculine model”. 7  Non-stereotypical communication is a good way to educate, raise awareness and prevent sexist behaviour. It encompasses eliminating sexist expressions, using the feminine and masculine or gender-neutral forms of titles, using the feminine and masculine or gender-neutral forms

when addressing a group, diversifying the representation of women and men, and ensuring equality of both in visual and other representations.

The governments of member States are invited to consider the following measures:

II.A.1. Reaffirm and implement relevant existing recommendations of the Council of Europe Committee of Ministers to member States, including Recommendation No R (90) 4 on the elimination of sexism from language, and Recommendation CM/Rec(2007)17 on gender equality standards and mechanisms, which underlines that “actions of member States must be targeted at the promotion of the use of non-sexist language in all sectors, particularly in the public sector”.

II.A.2. Undertake a systematic review of all laws, regulations, policies, etc., for sexist language and reliance on gendered assumptions and stereotypes with a view to replacing them with gender-sensitive terminology. Good practice includes the preparation of practical guides for language and communication that are non-sexist and without gender stereotypes for use in public administration documents.

II.B. Internet, social media and online sexist hate speech

Online sexism is rampant throughout Europe, with women disproportionately affected – especially young women and girls, women journalists, politicians, public figures and women’s human rights defenders. One aspect of online sexism is adversely commenting on expressed views or opinions. While attacks on men are more often based on their professional opinions or competence, women are more likely to be subject to sexist and sexualised abuse and invective, the extremity of which may be magnified by the anonymity offered by the internet. Online attacks not only affect women’s dignity but may also prevent women, including in the workplace, from expressing opinions and result in pushing them out of online spaces, undermining the right to free speech and opinion in a democratic society, limiting professional opportunities and reinforcing the gendered democratic deficit. Another aspect is that the digital age has deepened the scrutiny to which women’s bodies, speech and activism are subjected. In addition, sexist misuse of social media – such as posting of intimate visual material without the consent of those depicted – is a form of violence that needs to be addressed.

The internet and social media are both vehicles for freedom of expression and promoting gender equality, but they also allow perpetrators to express their abusive thoughts and engage in abusive behaviour. While racist hate speech is recognised as contrary to European and international human rights standards, the same is not always true of sexist or misogynist hate speech, and current policies and legislation at all levels have not been able to adequately address the issue. Therefore, States are encouraged to take responsibility for combating hate speech and ensuring that the same rules apply to sexist hate speech as those developed for racist hate speech when it comes to the use of criminal law sanctions.

In addition, artificial intelligence poses specific challenges in relation to gender equality and gender stereotypes. The use of algorithms can transmit and strengthen existing gender stereotypes and therefore may contribute to the perpetuation of sexism.

The governments of member States are invited to consider the following measures. 

II.B.1. Implement legislative measures that define and criminalise incidents of sexist hate speech and are applicable to all media, as well as reporting procedures and appropriate sanctions. More proactive detecting and reporting procedures for sexist hate speech should also be encouraged in respect of all media, including the internet and new media.

 II.B.2. Establish and promote programmes (including software) for children, young people, parents and educators to assist in advising children on media literacy for a safe and critical use of digital media and appropriate digital behaviour. This should be done through school curricula and through the production of handbooks and factsheets on what constitutes sexist behaviour, unwanted sharing of material on the internet, and appropriate responses, including gender-sensitive information about online safety. Ensure the wide dissemination of such materials.

II.B.3. Develop information and campaigns to raise awareness about sexist misuse of social media, threats in the internet environment and the situations children and young people face (for example blackmail, requests for money or unwanted posting of intimate pictures) with practical assistance about how to prevent and respond to such situations.

II.B.4. Undertake campaigns directed at the wider public on the dangers, opportunities, rights and responsibilities related to the use of new media.

II.B.5. Establish online resources providing expert advice on how to deal with online sexism, including procedures for swiftly reporting/removing harmful or unwanted material.

II.B.6. Undertake regular studies and gather sex- and age-disaggregated data on cybersexism and cyberviolence and share outcomes as appropriate.

II.B.7. Integrate a gender equality perspective in all policies, programmes and research in relation to artificial intelligence to avoid the potential risks of technology perpetuating sexism and gender stereotypes and examine how artificial intelligence could help to close gender gaps and eliminate sexism. This includes measures to increase the participation of women and girls in the information and technology area as students, professionals and decision makers. Design of data-driven instruments and algorithms should factor in gender-based dynamics. Transparency around these issues should be improved and awareness raised about the potential gender bias in big data; solutions to improve accountability should be offered.

II.C. Media, advertising and other communication products and services

Sexism in the media – electronic, print, visual and audio – contributes to an environment that tolerates and trivialises “everyday” sexism. It is manifested through:

- sexual, sexualised and racialised depictions and objectification of women, men, girls and boys, including in advertising, films, television, video games and pornographic material; - derogatory or trivialising reporting about women’s appearance, dress and behaviour rather than balanced and informed discussion of their views and opinions; - reporting and imaging women and men in stereotypical roles within the family and community; - reproducing and perpetuating gender stereotypes with respect to victims of gender-based violence; - unbalanced representation and the lack of meaningful participation of women in diverse professional and informative roles (experts, commentators), especially with respect to minority women. 8

The governments of member States are invited to consider the following measures:

II.C.1. Introduce legislation banning sexism in media and advertising and encourage the monitoring and enforcement of such measures.

II.C.2. Promote the inclusion of expressions of sexism in defamation laws.

II.C.3. Urge and provide support for the participation of the information and communication technology, media and advertising sectors in the drafting, adoption and implementation of self-regulatory policies and mechanisms for the elimination of sexism, including sexist hate speech within each sector.

II.C.4. Promote the role of media watch and advertising organisations in addressing sexism.

II.C.5. Encourage the establishment of an institution that is competent to receive, analyse and review complaints in relation to sexism in the media and in advertising, and has the authority to require that sexist content or advertisements be withdrawn or modified.

II.C.6. Encourage relevant bodies, such as gender equality commissions or national human rights institutions, to introduce education and training strategies, and tools for journalists and other media and communication professionals on the recognition of sexism, on how to promote positive and nonstereotypical portrayals of women and men in the media and in advertising, and on how to promote gendersensitive communication. These additional activities should be adequately resourced.

II.C.7. Support research on the prevalence and impact of sexist portrayals of women and girls in the media and in pornographic material, the extent to which they exacerbate gender inequalities and violence against women and girls, and also on their impact on women’s physical, sexual and psychological health. Allocate resources to finance effective communication and awareness-raising campaigns on the links between sexism, lack of gender equality and violence against women and girls; and promote positive and nonstereotypical portrayals of women and men in the media and in advertising.

II.C.8. Encourage the equal participation of women and men in media decision-making positions and in content, and the establishment of databases of women experts on all subjects.

II.C.9. Adopt positive measures for excellence and leadership in promoting balanced gender representation, such as a points-based system that allocates additional funding to media outlets for the production of gender-sensitive content.

II.C.10. Encourage the promotion of positive images of women as active participants in social, economic and political life, and of positive images of men in non-traditional roles such as carers. Provide incentives or rewards for good practice, for instance through public funding.

II.C.11. Support and promote good practice through dialogue and the development of networks and partnerships between media stakeholders to further combat sexism and gender stereotypes within the sector.

II.C.12. Support projects addressing the multiple and intersecting discrimination of women in vulnerable situations. Introduce incentives for the media to promote positive images of women of ethnic minority and/or migrant background.

II.D. Workplace

Workplace sexism takes many forms and is present in the public and the private sector. It manifests itself through sexist comments, and behaviour aimed at an employee or group of employees. Sexism in the workplace includes, among others, derogatory comments, objectification, sexist humour or jokes, overfamiliar remarks, silencing or ignoring people, gratuitous comments about dress and physical appearance, sexist body language, lack of respect and masculine practices which intimidate or exclude women and favour fellow men. 9 It impinges upon equality and dignity at work. 10

Sexist assumptions based on traditional gender roles may result in the belief that women, as mothers or would-be mothers or carers, are less reliable colleagues and employees. Conversely, there may be hostility towards mothers who do not stay at home or, alternatively, they may be excluded from important opportunities to advance their careers and, as a consequence, their professional lives. This contributes to the glass ceiling that limits women’s promotion opportunities. Such assumptions can also result in sexist remarks towards men who take up caring responsibilities.

Some workplace environments are especially male-dominated, with a high risk of fostering a culture of sexism. In addition, women occupying decision-making positions or those perceived as challenging the institutional male-dominated hierarchy may be especially subject to sexism. Similarly, men may experience sexism in female-dominated workplaces, or for being employed in typically “female” work.

The governments of member States are invited to consider the following measures:

II.D.1. Review labour legislation to prohibit sexism and sexist acts at work, and promote good practices such as risk analysis, mitigation and management measures, complaints mechanisms, remedies for victims and disciplinary action through civil or administrative law processes.

II.D.2. Encourage and provide support for the systematic review of rules, policies and regulations within both public- and private-sector establishments with a view to the adoption of appropriate codes of behaviour that incorporate complaints mechanisms and disciplinary measures in relation to sexism and sexist acts. This should also include intersecting forms of sexism, for instance, concerning migrant status or disability.

II.D.3. Encourage independent professions, professional organisations and trade unions to embrace the fight against sexism within their organisations, including in their internal rules.

II.D.4. Devise and make widely available a toolkit for combating sexism, including relevant legislative provisions and explanations as to the institutional benefits of eliminating sexism, and examples of sexist acts and of good practices for the elimination of sexism. Employers and managers, union representatives and other relevant personnel should be reminded of their obligation to eliminate workplace sexism and of the remedial action available for victims.

II.D.5. Urge commitment from the highest level (in the public and private sectors) for the promotion of an institutional culture that rejects sexism within the workplace, for instance through the drawing up of equality policies, internal guidelines and campaigns on different forms of sexism and deconstruction of stereotypes, increasing the number of women in decision-making positions and breaking the glass ceiling, including through temporary special measures such as targets and quotas.

II.D.6. Urge commitment from the highest level (in the public and private sectors) to promote awareness, information and prevention as regards sexist behaviour and to take all appropriate measures to protect workers from such conduct.

II.E. Public sector

Sexism in the public sector and reliance on gender stereotypes can result in the refusal of public services and unequal access to resources. At the same time, women working in the public sector, including those elected or members of decision-making bodies, at all levels, frequently face challenges to their dignity, legitimacy and authority owing to sexism and sexist behaviour. 11.

The governments of member States are invited to consider the following measures:

II.E.1. Include provisions against sexism and sexist behaviour and language in internal codes of conduct and regulations, with appropriate sanctions for those working in the public sector, including elected assemblies.

II.E.2. Support initiatives and investigations undertaken by parliamentarians, civil society organisations, trade unions or activists to address sexism in the public sphere.

II.E.3. Promote the inclusion of gender equality provisions within the applicable legal framework as good public tender/procurement practice.

II.E.4. Ensure training of public sector employees on the importance of non-sexist behaviour in working with the public, as well as with workplace colleagues. Such training should include the definition of sexism, its different manifestations, ways to deconstruct gender stereotypes and biases, and how to respond to them.

II.E.5. Inform recipients of public services about their rights as regards non-sexist behaviour through, for example, awareness-raising campaigns and specific reporting schemes to identify and mediate possible problems.

II.E.6. Promote the strengthening and implementation of internal disciplinary measures for sexism in the public sector and in all decision-making and political bodies, for instance through cutting or suspending responsibilities and funds, or through financial penalties.

II.F. Justice sector

Sexism and gender stereotyping within the civil, administrative and criminal justice and law-enforcement systems are barriers to the administration of justice. It can result in decision makers making misinformed or discriminatory judgments based on preconceived beliefs and inherent biases rather than on relevant facts. 12

The governments of member States are invited to consider the following measures:

II.F.1. With due regard for the independence of the judiciary, ensure regular and adequate training for all judges and magistrates on human rights and gender equality, and the harm caused by gender bias and gender stereotyping and the use of sexist language, especially in cases involving violence against women and girls.13

II.F.2. Provide for training of all law-enforcement personnel on sexism, cybersexism, sexist hate speech and violence against women; facilitate the reporting to police of such behaviour; and enhance police powers to seize and secure evidence of online abuse.

II.F.3. Encourage national and international courts and tribunals to be receptive to third-party interventions and expert opinions on unfamiliar topics, such as sexism and gender stereotyping.

II.F.4. Ensure that systems for reporting violations and access to law enforcement are secure, available and appropriate; alleviate financial charges or other deterrents that prevent victims from reporting or pursuing cases in the appropriate forum. Take steps to address the risk of revictimisation.

II.F.5. Encourage legal professional bodies to organise public lectures and other events to raise awareness among legal professionals and other relevant stakeholders on sexism and gender stereotyping in the justice system.

II.G. Education institutions

Sexist messages shape our society and are imbued with and reproduced by education systems, where they should be challenged. Children and young people assimilate gender stereotypes through curricula, teaching materials, behaviour and language. 14 Sexism may be embedded in the culture of education establishments at all levels from preschool to tertiary institutions. It can take many forms, for example: tolerance for and trivialisation of sexist imagery, language and expressions; intolerance of non-conforming gender behaviour; not addressing unconscious biases by staff and students; absent or inappropriate complaint and recording mechanisms; lack of sanctions for sexual harassment, including by other students. These embedded forms of sexism may influence subsequent education, career and lifestyle choices. States also bear responsibility for ensuring the accountability of private institutions for their actions, and there should be no exclusions for religious education institutions.

The governments of member States are invited to consider the following measures: 

II.G.1. Fully implement the provisions of Recommendation CM/Rec(2007)13 of the Committee of Ministers to member States on gender mainstreaming in education.

II.G.2. Ensure the inclusion of gender equality and non-discrimination and the elimination of sexism and sexist behaviour throughout all aspects of the educational process, including mechanisms and guidelines for reporting, responding to and recording incidents.

II.G.3. Implement and/or support prevention campaigns regarding sexism and sexist behaviour in education establishments and ensure zero tolerance for such phenomena, including gender stereotyping and bullying, cyberbullying, sexist insults and gender-based violence.

II.G.4. Organise events, including through State bodies, that address gender equality issues and ways of preventing and combating sexism, gender stereotypes and unconscious gender bias in all education establishments.

II.G.5. Integrate a gender equality perspective in all aspects of teacher pre-service and in-service training courses, and in school management personnel courses.

With regards to teaching methodology, tools and curricula:

II.G.6. Produce guidelines to ensure the integration of gender equality, non-discrimination and human rights teaching methodologies and tools into curricula at all levels of education, both public and private, from early childhood. This includes education for private life, in order to encourage children to be self-reliant and enhance responsibility in their relationships and behaviour – including consent and personal boundaries. Curricula should contain age-appropriate, evidence-based and scientifically accurate and comprehensive sex and sexuality education for girls and boys. The curricula should also cover intersecting forms of sexism, based for example on migrant status or disability.

II.G.7. Encourage the development of a website with resources, good practices and teaching/learning materials, and a manual to help detect and eliminate gender stereotypes in educational materials for trainers, teachers and inspectors.

II.G.8. Promote special programmes and career counselling which support students in making study and career choices that are not based on gender stereotypes, including training for staff on gender stereotypes and unconscious biases.

II.H. Culture and sport

Sexism is manifest in many aspects of cultural life, especially through the pervasiveness of gender stereotypes. According to the United Nations International Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, cultural life encompasses ways of life, language, oral and written literature, music and song, nonverbal communication, religion or belief systems, rites and ceremonies, sport and games, methods of production or technology, natural and man-made environments, food, clothing and shelter, art, customs and traditions. Art and culture are essential shapers of attitudes and gender roles and it is therefore crucial to address sexism in these areas. In addition, according to the Istanbul Convention, culture, religion, custom or tradition, shall not be considered as justification for acts of violence against women and girls.

Issues that need to be addressed in sporting life include: the sexist attitudes of the media, sport organisations, coaches, sport leaders, athletes, etc.; sexist portrayals of women in sport, trivialising women’s sporting achievements by depicting them in stereotypical roles or demeaning their sports; and sexism and sexist hate speech in sporting events.

The governments of member States are invited to consider the following measures:

II.H.1. Produce and promote tools for combating sexism in the cultural and sport sectors, such as training material or tools on gender-sensitive language and communication.

II.H.2. Reaffirm and implement Recommendations CM/Rec(2015)2 of the Committee of Ministers to member States on gender mainstreaming in sport and CM/Rec(2017)9 of the Committee of Ministers to member States on gender equality in the audiovisual sector.

II.H.3. Encourage leading cultural and sporting figures to correct sexist assumptions or denounce sexist hate speech.

II.H.4. Urge sport federations and associations and cultural institutions at all levels to prepare codes of conduct to prevent sexism and sexist behaviour which should include provisions for disciplinary action. Foster zero tolerance towards sexism and sexist hate speech in cultural and sporting events.

II.H.5. Urge sports and cultural sectors at all levels to take concrete actions to promote gender equality and the non-stereotypical portrayal of women and men, girls and boys.

II.H.6. Promote the broadcasting and coverage by the media, especially public media, of women’s cultural and sports events on an equal footing as men’s, and publicly celebrate women’s achievements. 15 Give visibility and promote positive role models of women and men, girls and boys, who participate in sports where they are under-represented.

II.I. Private sphere

Sexism within the family can contribute to reinforcing stereotypical roles, women’s disempowerment, low self-esteem and the cycle of violence against women and girls. It can also influence life and career choices. Although traditional gender roles within the family (men as breadwinners, women performing household tasks) have generally shifted as more women have entered the paid workforce, factors contributing to change across families and States vary greatly. Sexist behaviour remains widespread in interpersonal relations and women continue to perform much more unpaid work in the home than men.

CEDAW Article 16 requires States parties to take appropriate measures to ensure equality between women and men within the family. 16 The link between sexism and prevention of violence against women and girls reinforces the need to take action in the private sphere.

The recommended measures above, in particular those with respect to language and awareness raising, as well as those regarding the media, education and cultural sectors, are especially relevant to addressing sexism in the private sphere.

However, sanctions for sexism within the family are inappropriate, unless behaviour reaches the threshold of criminality such as physical, psychological or economic violence against women.

The governments of member States are invited to consider the following measures:

II.I.1. Introduce measures in relation to the conciliation between private and working life, including paid maternity and paternity leave, paid parental leave for women and men, universal access to quality and affordable childcare and other social services, and flexible working arrangements for both women and men. Improve access to services for the care of the elderly and other dependants. Organise campaigns to encourage the equal sharing of household and care responsibilities between women and men. 

II.I.2. Promote policies and measures supporting positive parenting which guarantee equal opportunities for children irrespective of their sex, status, abilities or family situation. Positive parenting refers to parental behaviour based on the best interests of the child that is nurturing, free of gender stereotyping, empowering, non-violent and provides recognition and guidance which involves the setting of boundaries to enable the full development of the child.

II.I.3. Introduce measures and tools enhancing the skills of parents to deal with cybersexism and internet pornography.

II.I.4. Promote training in recognising and addressing sexism and sexist behaviour as part of professional courses for those dealing with family and interpersonal relationships, for example, social services personnel including maternity welfare and childcare centres.

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