A 2014 study on female characters in popular films showed that across the films assessed, only 31% of all speaking characters were female and that sexualisation was the standard for female characters.

In Europe, approximately one in ten films is directed by a woman. Women face barriers to be employed as film directors and inequality in employment spans across all professions in the audio-visual sector - from lead roles in films to video game programming, to ageism against female TV presenters. Gender equality and gender mainstreaming in the audio-visual sector imply addressing women’s limited access and visibility in the profession (e.g. unequal access to decision making and funding, lack of support for women-created content, pay inequalities) and looking at on-screen content from a gender equality perspective in order to tackle gender stereotypes and sexism in this sector.


Gender mainstreaming and the audio-visual sector at the Council of Europe


The Council of Europe Cinema Support Fund Eurimages has addressed gender equality in the European film industry since 2012. A Gender Study Group was set up to address the presence of women in the cinema sector at national and European levels and to analyse the under-representation of women as directors among eligible projects for Eurimages funding. Eurimages adopted a first Strategy for Gender Equality in the European Film Industry 2014-2017  and in 2017  a new Gender Equality Strategy  for the period 2018-2020 entitled “Aiming for 50/50 by 2020” was launched. The Strategy's overall goal is to provide equal support for projects by women and by men film directors and to work to increase gender equality in the film industry. In September 2017 the Committee of Ministers adopted a Recommendation on gender equality in the audio-visual sector. In 2016, an annual prize for Best Female Director, the Audentia Award was launched at the Istanbul Film Festival and it continues being awarded at a different festival each year. Eurimages has a dedicated web page on gender equality.  Furthermore, in 2022, the members of the Eurimages committee, reinforced their commitment to diversity and inclusion by adopting a first strategy for diversity and inclusion in the European film industry covering the period 2022-2024.

The European Audiovisual Observatory is part of the Council of Europe in Strasbourg and aims at collecting and distributing information about the audiovisual industries in Europe. The European Audiovisual Observatory regularly gathers gender-disaggregated data regarding the place and role of women working in film, television and video in Europe.

See also sections on media and on cultural and natural heritage.