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Former Bureau of the Committee
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Conference Freedom of Expression and Democracy in the Digital Age -
Opportunities, Rights, Responsibilities, Belgrade, 7-8/11/2013
Conference "The Hate factor in political speech - Where do responsibilities lie?", Warsaw18-19 September 2013
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Strasbourg 14 November, 2011 CDMC(2011)018rev
STEERING COMMITTEE ON THE MEDIA AND NEW COMMUNICATION SERVICES
15 meeting, 29 November – 2 December 2011
Council of Europe, Agora, Strasbourg
Draft Recommendation of the Committee of Ministers to the member states on Gender Equality in the work of the media and the new communication services
and Addenda amending
selected Council of Europe Committee of Ministers
Declarations and Recommendations
The core objective of the Council of Europe is to preserve and promote human rights and their full enjoyments, democracy and the rule of law, and that all its activities must contribute to this fundamental objective.
Gender is a structural difference which affects the entire population. The effective equality between women and men is an integral part of the Council of Europe ideals and principles, being an essential component of human rights and a fundamental criterion for democracy.
Gender equality means equal visibility, empowerment, responsibility and participation of both women and men in all spheres of public life, including the media.
Media is indeed an essential field where a gender perspective could have considerable impact and should therefore be actively promoted.
In particular, media plays a very important role in shaping and mirroring gender roles. The active contribution of media in preventing gender-based stereotyping and discrimination is highly relevant.
An increased participation and access of women to the media and new communication services, in particular at the decision-making level is also a fundamental commitment which should be seriously considered.
Although dating back more than two decades, the strategic objectives recommended by the Council of Europe in 19841 and the Beijing Platform for Action in 1995 calling for greater gender sensitivity on the part of media agents and decision-makers, should be considered still valid today and require the urgent attention of policy makers.
In the past decades the gender perspective has not been fully integrated in legislation and policy in the media field.
Conscious of the Council of Europe engagement in ensuring human rights in the media field, the Committee of Ministers deems appropriate to reconsider – by means of this amending Recommendation - a number of existing Recommendations and Declarations relating to media and bring the necessary amendments to those texts in order to include a gender equality perspective.
In particular, this Recommendation has an addendum which contains amendments to the following Recommendations and Declarations.
1. Recommendation CM/Rec(2006)12 on empowering children in the new information and communications environment;
2. Recommendation CM/Rec(2007)2 on media pluralism and diversity of media content;
3. Recommendation CM/Rec(2007)3 on the remit of public service media in the information society;
4. Recommendation CM/Rec(2007)11 on promoting freedom of expression and information in the new information and communications environment;
5. Recommendation CM/Rec(2007)16 on measures to promote the public service value of the Internet;
6. Declaration of the Committee of Ministers on protecting the dignity, security and privacy of children on the internet, adopted on 20 February 2008;
7. Declaration of the Committee of Ministers on the role of community media in promoting social cohesion and intercultural dialogue, adopted on 11 February 2009.
The amendments to the abovementioned Recommendations and Declarations are intended to serve the following objectives:
a. when adoption and implementation of self-regulatory measures, guidelines, codes of conduct or other forms of regulation within media organisations are encouraged, it should be underlined that such regulations should also aim at promoting gender equality, presentation of non-stereotyped images and non-sexist language, as well as preventing the use of gender-based violent or degrading materials;
b. when media and information literacy education/training is encouraged, either for individuals or professionals, the gender equality perspective should be included and capacity building and training for women should be encouraged as they are under-represented in the media industry;
c. when policies and plans for developing and implementing new information and communication technologies (ICTs) are encouraged or discussed women’s capacity-building and training with regard to ICTs should be included;
d. media should strive to offer a reference point for all members of the public. This should constitute a factor for social cohesion and integration of all individuals, irrespectively of their gender, as well as providing a forum for pluralistic public discussion and promoting broader democratic participation of all individuals, including members of different minority groups;
e. media policies and legislation should acknowledge the several and coexisting forms of discrimination of women resulting in multiple and significant disadvantage and they should recognise specific dimensions of such discrimination when addressing concrete problems;
i. media and information literacy amongst children, youth, parents, teachers etc., should contribute to an increased sensitivity towards gender equality and to avoid behaviours which may lead to gender-based discrimination. [Emphasis should be placed on ensuring children’s understanding of the responsibilities and consequences for participating in disseminating illegal, harmful content, including gender-related harmful content, in particular in respect of new communication technologies];
Against this background, the Committee of Ministers, under the terms of Article 15. b of the Statute of the Council of Europe, recommends that member states:
i. implement in their domestic law and/or practice the provisions of the Recommendations and Declarations as amended by the addendum to this Recommendation;
ii. disseminate widely this Recommendation and its addendum;
iii. bring the Recommendation to the attention of the media, the new communications and information industries, users and their organisations, as well as the regulatory authorities for the media and new communications and information services and relevant public authorities.
Addendum to the Recommendation amending the following Recommendations:
1. Recommendation CM/Rec(2006)12 of the Committee of Ministers to member states on empowering children in the new information and communications environment, in the following paragraphs shall be amended to read as follows:
Conscious of the risk of harm from content and behaviour in the new information and communications environment which may not always be illegal but which are capable of adversely affecting the physical, emotional and psychological well-being of children, such as online pornography, the portrayal and glorification of violence and self-harm, demeaning, discriminatory or racist expressions or apologia for such conduct, gender-based harmful content, solicitation (grooming), bullying, stalking and other forms of harassment;
Convinced that an essential part of the response to content and behaviour carrying a risk of harm lies in the development and provision of information literacy, defined as the competent use of tools providing access to information, the development of critical analysis of content, and the appropriation of communication skills to foster citizenship and creativity, and training initiatives for children and their educators in order for them to use information and communication technologies and services in a positive and responsible manner;
The following paragraphs should be added: Convinced that information literacy should insist on the responsibilities and consequences of producing and disseminating illegal and harmful content – including gender-related harmful content, being fully aware that often harmful contents and behaviours are produced and carried out by other children;
Convinced that part of information literacy should also include teaching young people how to decode stereotypical and sexist images and messages and to avoid behaviours which may lead to gender-based discrimination;
Recommends that member states develop, where necessary, a coherent information literacy and training strategy which is conducive to empowering children, and their educators in order for them to make the best possible use of information and communication services and technologies, having regard to the following:
ii. member states should ensure that children acquire the necessary skills to create, produce and distribute content and communications in the new information and environment in a manner which is both respectful of the fundamental rights and freedoms of others and conducive to the exercise and enjoyment of their own fundamental rights, in particular the right to freedom of expression and information balanced with the right to private life;
iii. member states should ensure that such skills enable children to better understand and deal with content (for example violence, self-harm, sexism, pornography, discrimination and racism) and behaviours (such as grooming, bullying, harassment or stalking) carrying a risk of harm, thereby promoting a greater sense of confidence, well-being and respect for others in the new information and communications environment.
2. Recommendation CM/Rec(2007)2 of the Committee of Ministers to member states on media pluralism and diversity of media content in the following paragraphs shall be amended to read as follows:
Recognising the crucial contribution of the media in fostering public debate, political pluralism and awareness of diverse opinions, notably by providing different groups in society – including cultural, linguistic, ethnic, religious or other minorities – with an opportunity to receive and impart information, to express themselves and to exchange ideas;
A new paragraph should be added: Recognising that media can significantly contribute to promote [a gender balanced view of reality/the advancement of women], notably through the increasing of women’s visibility and presentation of gender equality issues;
Recalling the importance of transparency of media ownership, so as to ensure that the authorities in charge of the implementation of regulations concerning media pluralism can take informed decisions, and that the public can make its own analysis of the information, ideas and opinions expressed by the media;
Reaffirming that, in order to protect and actively promote the pluralistic expressions of ideas and opinions as well as cultural diversity, member states should adapt the existing regulatory frameworks, particularly with regard to media ownership, and adopt any regulatory and financial measures called for in order to guarantee media transparency and structural pluralism as well as diversity of the content distributed;
A new paragraph should be added: Recognising that pluralism is also based on a balanced participation of women and men in media decision making bodies and that transparency of media ownership should also cover information on equal representation of both men and women in decision making.
2.a. Recommended measures to Recommendation No. R (2007)2 in the following paragraphs and points shall be amended to read as follows:
I. Measures promoting structural pluralism of the media
2. Ownership regulation
2.1. Member states should consider the adoption of rules aimed at limiting the influence which a single person, company or group may have in one or more media sectors as well as ensuring a sufficient number of diverse media outlets;
A new paragraph should be added: 2.1 bis Member states, indicating political will and commitment to gender equality should include, in the light of the principle stated in 2.1, regular assessment of the participation of women in ownership and decision-making and management levels of both public and private media organisations and related technical services, as well as in advisory, regulatory and monitoring bodies of the media sector.
3 Public service media
Point 3.2: Member states should encourage public service media to play an active role in promoting social cohesion and integrating all communities, social groups and generations, including minority groups, women, young people, the elderly, underprivileged and disadvantaged social categories, disabled persons, etc., while respecting their different identities and needs. In this context, attention should be paid to the content created by and for such groups, and to their access to, and presence and portrayal in, public service media. Due attention should also be paid to gender equality issues and to a balanced presence and portrayal of women and men in public service media;
4. Other media contributing to pluralism and diversity
Member states should encourage the development of other media capable of making a contribution to pluralism and diversity and providing a space for dialogue. These media could, for example, take the form of community, local, minority or social media. The content of such media can be created mainly, but not exclusively, by and for certain groups in society, can provide a response to their specific needs or demands, and can serve as a factor of social cohesion and integration. These media can also contribute to gender equality, by giving visibility to women, in particular to those belonging to groups exposed to multiple and coexisting discrimination. The means of distribution, which may include digital technologies, should be adapted to the habits and needs of the public for whom these media are intended.
II. Measures promoting content diversity
1. General principle
Pluralism of information and diversity of media content will not be automatically guaranteed by the multiplication of the means of communication offered to the public. Therefore, member states should define and implement an active policy in this field, including monitoring procedures, and adopt any necessary measures in order to ensure that a sufficient variety of information, opinions and programmes, also in respect of gender equality, is disseminated by the media and is available to the public.
2. Promotion of a wider democratic participation and internal diversity
2.2. Member states should, in particular, encourage the media to contribute to intercultural and inter-religious dialogue, so as to promote mutual respect and tolerance and to prevent potential conflicts through discussions. Attention to gender equality issues should also be strongly encouraged .
To this end, member states should:
- on the one hand, encourage the media to adopt or strengthen a voluntary policy promoting balanced representation of women and men, and of minorities, in their internal organisation in all its branches, in order to reflect society’s diverse composition, mitigate inequalities and reinforce social cohesion.
5. Raising awareness of the role of media
5.1. Member states should support the training of media professionals, including on-going training, and encourage such training to address the role that media professionals, including owners and managers, can play in favor of diversity and gender equality. Society at large should be made aware of this role.
5.2. Diversity and gender equality could be included as an objective in the charters of media organizations and should/could also be included in codes of ethics adopted by media professionals. The latter should/could address gender-based discrimination issues, promote the use of non-sexist language and the presentation of non-stereotyped images, and proscribe or discourage the use of gender-based harmful or degrading materials.
3. Recommendation CM/Rec(2007)3 of the Committee of Ministers to member states on the remit of public service media in the information society in the following paragraphs shall be amended to read as follows:
Underlining the specific role of public service broadcasting, which is to promote the values of democratic societies, in particular respect for human rights, cultures and political pluralism; and with regard to its goal of offering a wide choice of programmes and services to all sectors of the public, promoting social cohesion, gender equality, cultural diversity and pluralist communication accessible to everyone;
Recommends that the governments of member states:
ii. include, where they have not already done so, provisions in their legislation/regulations specific to the remit of public service media, covering in particular the new communication services, thereby enabling public service media to make full use of their potential and especially to promote [a gender-balanced view of reality, alongside a] broader democratic, social and cultural participation, [mindful of gender equality], inter alia, with the help of new interactive technologies;
3.a. Guiding principles concerning the remit of public service media in the information society in the following paragraphs and points shall be amended to read as follows:
I. The public service remit: maintaining the key elements
1. Member states have the competence to define and assign a public service remit to one or more specific media organizations, in the public and/or private sector, maintaining the key elements underpinning the traditional public service remit, while adjusting it to new circumstances. This remit should be performed with the use of state-of-the-art technology appropriate for the purpose. These elements have been referred to on several occasions in Council of Europe documents, which have defined public service broadcasting as, amongst other things:
d) a forum for pluralistic public discussion and a means of promoting broader democratic participation of all individuals, regardless of their differences, including those related to gender.
II. Adapting the public service remit to the information society
a. A reference point for all members of the public, with universal access offered
6. Member states should see to it that the goals and means for achievement of these goals by public service media are clearly defined, in particular regarding the use of thematic services and new communication services. This may include regular evaluation and review of such activities by the relevant bodies, so as to ensure that all groups in the audience are adequately served and visible in the media.
b. A factor for social cohesion and integration of all individuals, groups and communities
7. Public service media should be adapted to the new digital environment to enable them to fulfill their remit in promoting social cohesion at local, regional, national and international levels, including greater gender equality, and to foster a sense of co-responsibility of the public for the achievement of these objectives.
8. Public service media should integrate all communities, social groups and generations, including minority groups, young people, old persons, the most disadvantaged social categories, persons with disabilities, while respecting their different identities and needs. In this context, attention should be paid to the content created by and for such groups, and to their access to, and presence and portrayal in, public service media. Due attention should be also paid to gender equality issues both in regards to women’s visibility and non-stereotyped portrayal and participation in the content production and decision-making positions in the media industry. Due attention should be paid to women from disadvantaged social groups, who are exposed to multiple discrimination and are invisible in the media context bearing in mind that their lack of visibility prolongs discrimination.
9. Public service media should act as a trusted guide of society, bringing concretely useful knowledge into the life of individuals and of different communities in society. In this context, they should pay particular attention to the needs of minority groups and underprivileged and disadvantaged social categories, and to women from those communities. This role of filling a gap in the market, which is an important part of the traditional public service media remit, should be maintained in the new digital environment.
d. A forum for public discussion and a means of promoting broader democratic participation of individuals
14. Public service media should play an important role in promoting broader democratic debate and participation, including in respect of a gender equality dimension, with the assistance, among other things, of new interactive technologies, offering the public greater involvement in the democratic process. Public service media should fulfill a vital role in educating active and responsible citizens, providing not only quality content but also a forum for public debate, open to diverse ideas and convictions in society, and a platform for disseminating democratic values. This platform will only be truly democratic when it succeeds in reflecting the complexity and multiciplity of positions and roles which men and women have or purse in society.
15. Public service media should provide adequate information about the democratic system and democratic procedures, and should encourage participation not only in elections but also in decision-making processes and public life in general Accordingly, one of the public service media’s roles should be to foster citizens’ interest in public affairs and encourage them to play a more active part. In their role of promotion of citizens’ participation, public media should pay attention to the need that a balanced involvement of women and men in decision-making processes and public life in general is encouraged. Media themselves should respect the equal participation of men in their own decision-making posts;
16. Public service media should also actively promote a culture of tolerance and mutual understanding by using new digital and online technologies, in particular by encouraging and on-going, gender and cultural sensitive training for media professionals, including owners and managers.
III. The appropriate conditions required to fulfill the public service remit in the information society
a. Legal conditions
27. To reconcile the need for a clear definition of the remit with the need to respect editorial independence and programme autonomy and to allow for flexibility to adapt public service activities rapidly to new developments, member states should find appropriate solutions, involving, if needed, the public service media, in line with their legal traditions.
A new point should be added: In this context members states should consider adopting or reviewing their legislation, with the aim of ensuring a balanced participation of women and men in decision-making making, advisory, regulatory and monitoring bodies of the public service media sector. Committee of Ministers strongly encourages member states to embrace the principle that the representation of either women or men in any decision-making body in public life should not fall below 40%2.
4. Recommendation CM/Rec(2007)11 of the Committee of Ministers to member states on promoting freedom of expression and information in the new information and communications environment, in the following paragraphs shall be amended to read as follows:
Recalling also Recommendation Rec(2006)12 of the Committee of Ministers on empowering children in the new information and communications environment as amended by Recommendation ….., which underlines the importance for children to acquire the necessary skills to create, produce and distribute content and communications in a manner which is both respectful of the fundamental rights and freedoms of others and conducive to the exercise and enjoyment of their own fundamental rights;
I. Empowering individual users
The constant evolution and change in the design and use of technologies and services challenges the ability of individual users to fully understand and exercise their rights and freedoms in the new information and communications environment. In this regard, the transparency in the processing and presentation of information as well as the provision of information, guidance and other forms of assistance are of paramount importance to their empowerment. Media education is of particular importance in this context.
Member states should devise strategies, plans and programmes to include specific needs of women and people from other disadvantaged groups of society, such as elders or disabled, who have greater obstacles and barriers of being media educated.
V. Co-operation between stakeholders
The private sector should be encouraged to:
ii. develop, where appropriate, new forms of open, transparent and accountable self-regulation, which should include norms against threats to human dignity, gender-based violence and harmful content and negative use of women’s and men’s image.
5. Recommendation CM/Rec(2007)16 of the Committee of Ministers to member states on measures to promote the public service value of the Internet in the following paragraphs shall be amended to read as follows:
Recommends that, having regard to the guidelines in the appendix to this recommendation, the governments of member states, in co-operation, where appropriate, with all relevant stakeholders, take all necessary measures to promote the public service value of the Internet by:
- upholding human rights, democracy and the rule of law on the Internet and promoting social cohesion, gender equality, respect for cultural diversity and trust between individuals and between peoples in the use of ICTs, and in particular, the Internet;
5.a. Appendix to the Recommendation
I. Human rights and democracy
Member states should adopt or develop policies to preserve and, whenever possible, enhance the protection of human rights and respect for the rule of law in the information society. In this regard, particular attention should be paid to:
- the fundamental values of pluralism, cultural and linguistic diversity, and non-discriminatory access, also from a gender perspective - to different means of communication via the Internet and other ICTs;
- strengthening the participation, initiative and involvement of citizens, in national, regional and local public life and in decision-making processes, including the expectation that power will be shared in an equal way between women and men, thereby contributing to more dynamic, inclusive and direct forms of democracy, genuine public debate, better legislation and active scrutiny of the decision-making processes;
Member states should use the Internet and other ICTs in conjunction with other channels of communication to formulate and implement policies for education for democratic citizenship to enable individuals to be active and responsible citizens throughout their lives, to respect the rights of others and to contribute to the defense and development of democratic societies and cultures. Member states should, in that context, implement policies for capacity building and training programmes aimed at democratic participation and representation for groups underrepresented in the political and public life of their countries, such as women, people from minority background or class disadvantaged. In achieving the goal of equal participation of women and men, a minimum participation rate of 40% for each sex is considered the parity threshold3.
Member states should promote public discussion on the responsibilities of private actors, such as Internet service providers, content providers and users, and encourage them – in the interests of the democratic process and debate and the protection of the rights of others – to take self-regulatory and other measures to optimize the quality and reliability of information on the Internet and to promote the exercise of professional responsibility, in particular with regard to the establishment, compliance with, and monitoring of the observance of codes of conduct. Codes of conduct should include matters of sex-based discrimination, [gender-based violence and harmful content,] and other degrading images of men and women.
Member states should develop, in co-operation with the private sector and civil society, strategies which promote sustainable economic growth via competitive market structures in order to stimulate investment, particularly from local capital, into critical Internet resources and ICTs, especially in areas with a low communication and information infrastructure, with particular reference to:
- promoting the integration of ICTs into education and promoting media and information literacy and training in formal and non-formal education sectors for children and adults in order to:
c. encourage them to make informed choices when using the Internet and other ICTs by using and referring to diverse media forms and content from different cultural and institutional sources; understanding how and why media content is produced; critically analyzing the techniques, language and conventions used by the media and the messages they convey; and identifying media content and services that may be unsolicited, offensive or harmful, stereotypical and sexist.
Two new points should be added.:
d. inform them of the responsibilities and consequences of being involved in producing and disseminating illegal or harmful content, including gender-related harmful content.
e. increase women’s, and especially women exposed to multiple discrimination, capacity-building with regard to information and communication technologies (ICTs).
6. Declaration on protecting the dignity, security and privacy of children on the Internet adopted on 20 February 2008 in the following paragraphs shall be amended to read as follows:
[Convinced of the need to inform children about the enduring presence,
and risks, responsibilities and consequences of the content they create on the Internet and, in this connection, of the need to develop and promote their information literacy, defined as the competent use of tools providing access to information, the development of critical analysis of content and the appropriation of communication skills to foster citizenship and creativity and respect of human rights and dignity of others, as referred to in Recommendation Rec.(2006)12 of the Committee of Ministers on empowering children in the new information and communications environment as amended by Recommendation …..]
A new paragraph should be added:
Convinced that media and information literacy amongst children can play a crucial role in increasing their sensitivity towards gender equality and their understanding of the responsibilities and consequences for participating in disseminating gender-related harmful content;
7. Declaration of the Committee of Ministers on the role of community media in promoting social cohesion and intercultural dialogue adopted on 11 February 2009, in the following paragraphs shall be amended to read as follows:
Recalling its Recommendation CM/Rec(2007)2 on media pluralism and diversity of media content as amended by Recommendation…….., which calls on member states to encourage the development of different types of media, including community, local, minority or social media, capable of making a contribution to pluralism and diversity and providing a space for dialogue, while responding to the specific needs or requests of certain groups in civil society and serving as a factor of social cohesion and integration;
Recognizing the contribution of community media in fostering public debate, political pluralism, and awareness of diverse opinions, notably by providing various groups in society – including cultural, linguistic, ethnic, religious or other minorities – with an opportunity to receive and impart information, to express themselves and to exchange ideas
Conscious that in today’s radically changed media landscape, community media can play an important role, notably by promoting social cohesion, intercultural dialogue and tolerance, as well as by fostering community engagement and democratic participation at local and regional level, as documented by research;
A new paragraph should be added: Recognizing the role community media plays in empowering women and in promoting gender equality;
Declares its support for community media, with a view to helping them play a positive role for social cohesion, gender equality and intercultural dialogue, and in this connection:
iii. Underlines the need to develop and/or support educational and vocational programmes for all communities in order to encourage them to make full use of available technological platforms. Special capacity building programmes for women from those communities, who are exposed to multiple discrimination, are necessary in order to protect them against discrimination;
iv. Stresses the desirability of:
c. facilitating capacity building and training of community media staff, including special capacity building and training for women, for example via training schemes within the framework of lifelong learning and media literacy,
as well as staff and volunteer exchanges with other media and internship arrangements, which could enhance the quality of community media programmes, as well as via mentoring/work-shadowing programmes, confidence building and leadership training for women to facilitate balanced participation of women and men in decision-making posts;
d. encouraging the media’s contribution to intercultural dialogue through initiatives such as the setting up of a network to exchange information and support and facilitate initiatives which exist in this field in Europe;
A new point should be added: e. recognizing the importance of including gender-awareness training at all levels of the community media organizations and for all media staff, to encourage the creation of non-stereotyped, non-sexist and progressive content and also to build a truly democratic workplace that will reflect the composition of the society in which it operates, giving voice to the most vulnerable groups of women.
v. Invites community media to be conscious of their role in promoting social cohesion, gender equality and intercultural dialogue and, to this end, to elaborate and adopt or, if appropriate, review codes of professional ethics or internal guidelines, [
and ensuring they include norms against threats to human dignity, gender-based violence or harmful use of women’s and men’s image and] to ensure that they are respected.
1 Recommendation No. R(84) 17 on the equality between women and med in the media, adopted by the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe in 1984.
2 See also Recommendation Rec. (2003) 3 of the Committee of Ministers and explanatory memorandum on Balanced participation of women and men in political and public decision-making.
3 See also Recommendation CM/Rec. (2007) 17 of the Committee of Ministers and Explanatory Memorandum on Gender equality standards and mechanisms.