Ministry of Social Affairs and Health and European Council conference:
Gender stereotypes and sexism represent a serious obstacle to the achievement of gender equality
As part of its Presidency of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, Finland is organising conference on the elimination of gender stereotypes and sexism in Helsinki on 28–29 March 2019.
The conference “Tackling Gender Stereotypes and Sexism” examines gender stereotypes and charts methods for getting rid of how they manifest themselves in working life, the media, violence against women and hate speech.
New challenges are created by, for example, the internet, which has opened a new dimension for sexism and sexist hate speech – a dimension that we have as yet failed to fully address in the public policies, media, the private sector and law enforcement. The conference is held in collaboration with the Council of Europe, and it is attended by equality experts and representatives of governments and organisations from 37 European countries.
The conference was opened by Minister of Family Affairs and Social Services Annika Saarikko and Council of Europe's Deputy Secretary General Gabriella Battaini-Dragoni. In her opening address, Minister Saarikko pointed out that gender stereotypes still represent a serious obstacle to the achievement of substantive gender equality. They weaken the realisation of the human rights of both women and men.
The essential point with a view to gender equality is taking new and efficient measures for the elimination of harmful gender stereotypes and sexism. The Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe has just adopted the Council of Europe Recommendation to prevent and combat sexism. The recommendation gives Member States a tool for eliminating sexism and gender stereotypes.
We encounter rigid gender-related conceptions, stereotypes, in all spheres of society, including working life, politics and the media. Stereotypes derive from deeply rooted attitudes, values, norms and prejudices. For example, according to the Finnish Gender Equality Barometer 2017, only half of Finns were of the opinion that gender does not matter at all when selecting representatives to different sub-areas of politics. Stereotypes may lead to discrimination in such matters as recruitment, education or the media. Gender stereotypes and sexism also often go together with other factors, such as sexual orientation or ethnicity.
Finland will hold the Presidency of the Council of Europe until May 2019, and supporting equality and women’s rights is one of the priorities of Finland’s Presidency of the Council of Europe.
Päivi Yli-Pietilä, Ministerial Adviser, tel. +359 295 163 349, [email protected]