What is sexism? – The Council of Europe Recommendation


What is sexism? – The Council of Europe Recommendation

The Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe adopted first-ever international legal instrument to prevent and combat sexism. The Recommendation CM/Rec(2019)1 provides for the following definition of sexism: any act, gesture, visual representation, spoken or written words, practice or behaviour based upon the idea that a person or a group of persons is inferior because of their sex.

Sexism may occur in the public or private sphere, whether online or offline, with the purpose or effect of:

  • violating the inherent dignity or rights of a person or a group of persons; or
  • resulting in physical, sexual, psychological or socio-economic harm or suffering to a person or a group of persons; or
  • creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment; or
  • constituting a barrier to the autonomy and full realisation of human rights by a person or a group of persons; or
  • maintaining and reinforcing gender stereotypes.

The Council of Europe Recommends that the governments of member States (including Ukraine):

  1. Take measures to prevent and combat sexism and its manifestations in the public and private spheres, and encourage relevant stakeholders to implement appropriate legislation, policies and programmes, drawing on the definition and guidelines appended to this Recommendation;
  2. Monitor progress in the implementation of this Recommendation and inform the competent Council of Europe steering committee(s) of the measures undertaken and the progress achieved in this field;
  3. Ensure that this Recommendation, including its appendix, is translated and disseminated (in accessible formats) to relevant authorities and stakeholders.

Examples of recommended action include legislative reforms that both condemn sexism and define and criminalise sexist hate speech, and provide for appropriate remedies for victims of sexist behaviour.

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