European & International News

Council of Europe adopts first-ever international legal instrument to stop sexism

[Brussels, 28 March 2018] The European Women’s Lobby welcomes the adoption of the Council of Europe recommendation on preventing and combating sexism: the first-ever dedicated international legal instrument defining and addressing sexism.

According to this Recommendation just adopted by the Council of Europe’s Committee of Ministers., States should step up their fight against sexism in all walks of life. Furthermore, member states will be requested to 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 includes a definition of sexismand what sexist behaviour is and proposes concrete ways for different actors to identify and address them. It 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.

The Recommendation recognises that sexism and sexist behaviour are rooted in and reinforce gender stereotypes and that it is "widespread and prevalent in all sectors and all societies". It includes a comprehensive list of measures and areas where sexism occurs, from advertising and media, to employment, the justice sector, education and sport.

The Recommendation acknowledges 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.”

The Recommendation recognises that "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". It states that "the internet has provided a new dimension for the expression and transmission of sexism, especially of sexist hate speech, to a large audience" . The recommendations notes that "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".

Read the full Council of Europe press release here.

Download below Recommendation CM/Rec(2019)1 of the Committee of Ministers to member States on preventing and combating sexism:
CM Rec 2019 1E on preventing and combating sexism

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