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Sexism:
See it.
Name it.
Stop it.
#StopSexism #MeToo
 
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Sexism is any expression (act, word, image, gesture) based on the idea that some persons, most often women, are inferior because of their sex.

 
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Sexism is harmful.
It produces feelings of worthlessness, self-censorship, changes in behaviour, and a deterioration in health.
Sexism lies at the root of
gender inequality.

It affects women and girls disproportionately.

 
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Sexism is present in all areas of life.

 

63% of women journalists have been confronted with verbal abuse

 

Women spend almost twice as much time as men on unpaid housework (OECD countries)

 

80% of women stated that they have been confronted with the phenomenon of “mansplaining” and “manterrupting” at work

 

Men represent 75% of news sources and subjects in Europe

 

In the UK, 66% of 16-18-year-old girls surveyed experienced or witnessed the use of sexist language at school

 

59% of women in Amsterdam reported some form of street harassment

 

In France, 50% of young women surveyed recently experienced injustice or humiliation because they are women

 

In Serbia, research indicates that 76% of women in business are not taken as seriously as men

 
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Violence sometimes starts
with a joke

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Individual acts of sexism may seem benign, but they create a climate of intimidation, fear and insecurity.
This leads to the acceptance of violence, mostly against women and girls.

 
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This is why the Council of Europe has decided to
act by adopting a Recommendation to
prevent and combat sexism
.

 
 
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Sexism affects mostly women.
It can also affect men and boys
when they don’t conform to
stereotyped gender roles.

 
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The harmful impact of sexism can be worse for some women and men due to their ethnicity, age, disability, social origin, religion, gender identity, sexual orientation or other factors.

 
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Some groups of women, for example young women, politicians, journalists or
public figures,
are particular targets of sexism

 
%

of women elected to Parliament have been the target of sexist attacks on social networks

 
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See it. Name it. Stop it.

 

Language and communication

Examples of sexism in language and communications:

The generic use of the masculine gender by a speaker (“he/his/him” to refer to an unspecific person). The cover of a publication depicting men only. The naming of a woman by the masculine term for her profession. A communication campaign including gratuitous nudity. An advertisement with a man showing a woman how to use a washing machine.

Why should it be addressed?

Language and communication matter because they make people visible or invisible and recognise or demean their contribution to society. Our language shapes our thought, and the way we think influences our actions. Gender-blind or discriminatory language reinforces sexist attitudes and behaviour.

How to prevent it?

Use both the feminine and the masculine when addressing a mixed audience. Review public communication to make sure it uses gender-sensitive language and imagery. Produce manuals on gender-sensitive communication for different audiences. Promote research in this area.

Media, Internet and social media

Examples of sexism in the media:

A sexualised depiction of women in the media. An all-male TV show. Media reporting on violence against women which blames the victim. Journalists, most often women, receiving comments on social media based on their appearance instead of the issues they discuss. Internet applications sending some job adverts to men only because algorithms are built in a discriminatory way.

Why should it be addressed?

Children and others are bombarded with sexist media messages and influenced by them. Such messages limit their own choices in life. They give the impression that men are the keepers of knowledge and power and that women are objects and it’s ok to comment freely on their appearance. Online sexism pushes women out of online spaces. Online sexism can cause very real harm. Abusing or mocking someone online creates a permanent digital record that can be further disseminated and is difficult to erase.

How to prevent it?

Implement legislation on gender equality in media. Train media and communication professionals on gender equality. Ensure that women and men are represented in a balanced way and in diverse, non-stereotypical roles in the media. Promote advertisements that play with, and raise awareness of, gender stereotypes rather than reinforce them. Provide digital literacy training especially for young people and children. Legally define and criminalise (online) sexist hate speech. Put in place specialised services to provide advice on how to deal with online sexism.

Workplace

Examples of sexism at the workplace:

The practice of unofficially excluding women who have children from career opportunities. In meetings, ignoring women, appropriating their contributions or silencing them. Favouring a man rather than a woman for a managerial position by presuming her lack of authority. Gratuitous comments about physical appearance or dress (which undermine women as professionals). Derogatory comments to men taking on caring roles. “Mansplaining”.

Why should it be addressed?

Workplace sexism undermines the efficiency of victims and their sense of belonging. Silencing through sexism means that ideas or talents are ignored or under-used. Belittling comments create an intimidating/oppressive atmosphere for those confronted with them and can degenerate in violence/harassment. Victims may develop higher anxiety levels, be more prone to outbursts and depression. More generally, sexism leads to lower salaries and fewer opportunities for those confronted with it.

How to prevent it?

Adopt and implement codes of behaviour defining sexist behaviour and preventing it through training. Put in place complaint mechanisms, disciplinary measures and support services. Managers must state and show their commitment to act against sexism.

Public sector

Examples of sexism in the public sector:

Sexualised comments or comments about the appearance or family situation of politicians, most often women, including within parliaments. Comments about the sexual orientation or appearance of users by staff of public services. Sexist representations / posting of images of naked women in public workplaces (e.g. hospital staff rooms). Comments on women’s appearance in public spaces, including public transport.

Why should it be addressed?

The public sector has a duty to lead by example. Sexism in parliaments is very common but it limits the opportunities and freedom of women in parliaments, be they elected or staff. Sexism undermines equal access to public services. Sexism in public spaces limits women’s freedom of movement. Sexism can lead to violence and creates an oppressive environment preventing mostly women from fully participating in public life.

How to prevent it?

Training of staff. Put in place codes of conduct, complaint mechanisms, disciplinary measures and support services.  Implement awareness raising campaigns, such as toolkits or posters in public space explaining what sexism is. Promote gender balance in decision-making. Promote research and the gathering of data on the issue.

Justice

Examples of sexism in the justice system:

A judge implying to a victim of sexual violence that she was ‘asking for it’. A law professional commenting on the appearance of a woman who is a colleague. A police officer not taking an allegation of violence against women seriously or trivialising it.

Why should it be addressed?

Such behaviour can lead to victims dropping cases. They create distrust in the justice system. They can lead to misinformed judgments. They demean women and can push them out of legal professions.

How to prevent it?

Implement policies on women’s equal access to justice. Train legal and law enforcement professionals. Deconstruct judicial stereotyping through awareness-raising campaigns. Ensure professionals base their judgments on facts, on the behaviour of the perpetrator and the context of the case rather than the victim’s clothing, for example.

Education

Examples of sexism in education:

Textbooks containing stereotypical images of women/men, boys/girls. The absence of women as writers, historical or cultural figures in textbooks. Career and education counselling discouraging non-stereotypical career or study choices. Teachers making comments about the appearance of pupils/students/fellow teachers. Sexualised comments to girls. Bullying of non-conforming pupils/students by fellow pupils /students or education professionals. The absence of awareness /procedures / reactions to address such sexist behaviour.

Why should it be addressed?

The content of education and behaviour of education professionals heavily influences perceptions and behaviour. A climate of sexism in learning establishments negatively affects the achievements of pupils/students. Sexism in education can limit future individual career and lifestyle choices.

How to prevent it?

Implement policies and legislation on gender equality in education. Review textbooks to ensure that they are free of sexism and that they depict women as well as men in non-stereotypical roles. Ensure the representation of women as scientists, artists, athletes, leaders, politicians in textbooks and programmes. Teach women’s history. Ensure the availability of complaint mechanisms. Teach gender equality issues as well as sexuality education (including consent and personal boundaries). Train education professionals on unconscious bias.

Culture and sport

Examples of sexism in culture and sport:

Sportswomen depicted in the media according to their family role and not their skills and strengths. Trivialising women’s sporting achievements. Demeaning men who play “feminine” sports. Women in sexy outfits as “decoration” in cultural or sporting events. Absence of women’s work in art exhibitions. Scarcity of meaningful roles for women in cinema and the virtual absence of roles for older actresses. Scarcity of funding for film production in which women have a leadership role. Under-resourcing of women’s art.

Why should it be addressed?

Both culture and sport are shapers of attitudes. If women and men are depicted in stereotyped ways, this will feed into gender stereotyping. When mostly men are visible in these areas, this influences the way women are seen as potential artists or athletes and narrows the range of role models for children and young people. Gender stereotypes limit the choice of women/men girls/boys to practice sports that are not considered “feminine” or “masculine”; this leads to self-censorship. In both areas, sexism leads to lower salaries and fewer opportunities for those confronted with it.

How to prevent it?

Measures to encourage creative work by women and gender mainstreaming in cultural and sport policies (scholarships, exhibitions, training, provision of space/workshops). Ensure better and more media coverage of women’s sports and art. Encourage sponsors to support women’s arts and sports. Adopt codes of conduct to prevent sexist behaviour, including provision for disciplinary action in sports federations. Encourage leading sport and cultural figures to speak up against sexism and implement campaigns to denounce violence in sport and sexist hate speech.

Private sphere

Examples of sexism in the private sphere:

Women performing more unpaid (care and household) work than men, for example only women helping to wash dishes at a dinner party. Sexist jokes between friends. Systematically offering “feminine” or “masculine” toys to girls/boys. Boys being encouraged to run and take risks and girls to be docile and compliant. The use of expressions like “running like a girl” or “boys will be boys”.

Why should it be addressed?

Unpaid work weigh on women’s participation in the labour market, on their economic independence as well as on their participation in sport and leisure activities. Toys (e.g. a mini kitchen or a construction game) influence gender roles, but also future study or career choices. Sexist jokes can intimidate and silence people and they trivialise sexist behaviour.

How to prevent it?

Awareness-raising measures and research on the impact and the sharing of unpaid work between women and men. Measures for reconciling private and working life for all. Promotion of non-gendered toys. Encouraging boys as well as girls to participate in household tasks. Giving girls, too, the space and freedom to play, explore and be themselves.

 
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