Resolution on discrimination against women in advertising

Official Journal C 304 , 06/10/1997 P. 0060


Resolution on discrimination against women in advertising

The European Parliament,

- having regard to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights,

- having regard to Articles 1 and 5 of the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women,

- having regard to the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms,

- having regard to the Vienna Human Rights Conference of 1993,

- having regard to the Amsterdam Draft Treaty, with particular reference to Article F(1) TEU, Article 2 TEU and Article 6a EC Treaty (CONF/4001/97),

- having regard to Article 1 of the declaration on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms annexed to its resolution of 12 April 1989 ((OJ C 120, 16.5.1989, p. 51.)),

- having regard to the recommendations of the Council of Europe of 1984 on equality of men and women in the media R (84) 17 and the guidelines for television advertising R (84) 3 and of 5 February 1985 on statutory protection against sexual discrimination R (85) 2,

- having regard to Article 12 of Directive 89/552/EEC coordinating certain provisions laid down by law, regulation or administrative action in the Member States concerning the pursuit of television broadcasting activities ((OJ L 298, 17.10.1989, p. 23.)),

- having regard to Article 7 of the European Convention of 5 May 1989 on Transfrontier Television,

- having regard to the Fourth World Women's Conference in Peking in 1995,

- having regard to the resolution of the Social Affairs Council of 5 October 1995 on the image of women and men portrayed in advertising and the media ((OJ C 296, 10.11.1995, p. 15.)),

- having regard to the European Commission's Green Paper on commercial communications in the Internal Market (COM(96)0192),

- having regard to the Commission's Green Paper on the protection of minors and human dignity in audiovisual and information services (COM(96)0483),

- having regard to the Commission's communication on illegal and harmful content on the Internet (COM(96)0487) and to Parliament's resolution of 24 April 1997 thereon ((OJ C 150, 19.5.1997, p. 38.)),

- having regard to its resolution of 17 December 1993 on pornography ((OJ C 20, 24.1.1994, p. 546.)),

- having regard to the Charter signed in Rome on 18 May 1996 by the women ministers of the EU Member States, its resolution of 24 May 1996 on the balanced participation of women and men in decision-making ((OJ C 166, 10.6.1996, p. 269.)) and the Council Recommendation of 2 December 1996 on an equal role for men and women in the decision-making process ((OJ L 319, 10.12.1996, p. 11.)),

- having regard to its resolution of 14 October 1987 on the depiction and position of women in the mass media ((OJ C 305, 16.11.1987, p. 66.)),

- having regard to the motion for a resolution by Mrs Gröner on discrimination against women in advertising (B4-0545/95),

- having regard to Article 148 of its Rules of Procedure,

- having regard to the report of the Committee on Women's Rights (A4-0258/97),

A. whereas discrimination against women is a violation of human dignity and the principle of equality,

B. whereas the image of women in advertising can, in some instances, be the subject of criticism if the advertising encourages the dissemination of sexist stereotypes, the preservation of clichés about the roles of the sexes and degrading depiction of the female body which infringe human dignity,

C. stressing the fact that the gratuitous exploitation of the female body for economic ends can be a particularly serious form of violation of the dignity of women,

D. convinced that by presenting role models the media can influence social behaviour and by showing the variety of roles of the different sexes they can help change attitudes and achieve equality,

E. convinced that the role of women today is characterized by variety and that any stereotypical allocation of roles runs counter to the everyday reality of women,

F. having regard to the fact that there are no generally valid criteria for sex- discriminatory advertising,

G. aware that the way advertising messages come across may also be gender-oriented and culturally dependent,

H. whereas advertising also reflects social aspirations and can have an effect through positive example,

I. whereas advertising can be an instrument in the fight against racism, sexism and discrimination by making more use of the different facets of the multicultural society of which we are all part,

J. aware that extreme slogans and frivolous texts are typical of modern advertising,

K. whereas there is evidence of a change in the image of women in accordance with social change and whereas there has been a decrease in the frequency of complaints overall,

L. in the expectation that the new audiovisual and information services, particularly in the Internet, will mean a significant increase in marketing activities and whereas the content of advertising, hitherto clearly defined, is assuming a hybrid form,

M. whereas the new communication and multimedia systems have changed regulations on the media which are based on public control mechanisms,

N. whereas the New Media have also led to a fundamental change in the basic context of the legal protection of human dignity, and new forms of legal protection are already under discussion,

O. concerned at the portrayal of violence in the New Media,

P. whereas certain forms of pornography violate human dignity, particularly when they are accompanied by images of sexual violence and force,

Q. convinced that the Member States' legislation and European legislation on protection against the demeaning portrayal of women in the media is inadequate,

R. in the knowledge that although general national advertising provisions include the protection of public interests, including protection of human rights and protection against anti-social behaviour, they are seldom concerned with sexual discrimination,

S. aware that national restrictions on compliance with social norms and national rules on self-regulation differ quite considerably,

T. aware that nothwithstanding the fundamental right to freedom of expression, Article 10(2) of the European Convention on Human Rights, amongst other considerations, requires consideration to be given to the protection of public morality,

U. convinced that advertising too must give due consideration to the importance of human dignity and that infringement of human dignity and discrimination against either sex in order to promote sales of goods is not acceptable,

1. Confirms that the human rights of women are an inalienable, integral and indivisible part of general human rights, and recalls the EU's declaration on the World Conference on Women of 1995 in Peking;

European Union

2. Welcomes that fact that the call for the equal status of women and men as a Community objective and non-discrimination on grounds of sex have been included in the Amsterdam Draft Treaty but is disappointed at the decision-making procedures that have been chosen;

3. Is of the opinion that the legal protection of fundamental rights in the Community would be strengthened by the Community's accession to the European Human Rights Convention;

Member States

4. Calls for international pacts and conventions and for non-discrimination to be transposed in law and practice;

5. Calls for statutory measures to prevent any form of pornography in the media and in advertising and for a ban on advertising for pornographic products and sex tourism;

Advertising industry and the advertising media

6. Calls on the media to perform their statutory task of respecting human dignity and implementing equality between the sexes;

7. Urges the media to contribute to the required change of attitudes, with the aim of bringing about genuine equality, rather than simply transmitting images which tend to perpetuate or exacerbate the existing discriminatory situation;

8. Rejects the commercial dissemination of images of women which denigrate the dignity of women or their equality with the male sex;

9. Calls for sexist stereotypes to be resisted in the contents, images and language of advertising;

10. Calls on the advertising industry to relinquish, specifically and in its entirety, the denigration of women as sex objects for men through technical means and visual representations such as reducing the female role to external beauty and sexual willingness;

11. Encourages the advertising industry to be more constructively creative in their advertisements in order to stress the importance of women to society, at work, in the family and in public life;

12. Calls on the European umbrella organization of the advertising industry and on the Commission to use cross-border information and awareness measures for the media and the advertising industry to encourage a change in the values which determine and which can change the image of women;

13. Calls once again for balanced participation by women and men at the production and decision-taking levels of the advertising industry and the media, in order to strengthen the influence of women on the subject matter of advertising and programmes and hence to have a say in the decision-making process at an early stage;

14. Encourages women in the advertising industry to establish their own and/or alternative advertising agencies and to carry out their advertising activities under the motto of non-discrimination and the equality of the sexes with original and modern means;

15. Recommends that those television councils in the Member States which have not already done so should draw up a code of ethics;

Self-regulatory bodies in the advertising industry

16. Calls on the national bodies concerned with advertising discipline to inform consumers more fully of the aims, procedures and principles of advertising regulation and of the possibilities for making complaints: encourages the industries involved to introduce minimum standards for non-discriminatory advertising in the self-regulatory code of conduct;

17. Recommends the development of the European Alliance for Advertising Self- Regulation (EASA) into a fully fledged self-regulatory body for the European advertising industry, with the task of establishing European principles for advertising discipline, including opposition to discriminatory advertising, and vested, as a self-regulatory body, with the powers of regulation and recommendation in cross-border complaints;

18. Welcomes the fact that the latest revision (April 1997) of the International Code of Advertising Practice now includes a ban on violating human dignity and a ban on encouraging violence and unlawful or objectionable behaviour, and recommends that the ICC carry out further reforms against the violation of women's rights;

19. Is of the opinion that national advertising discipline (powers of the supervisory bodies and rules of behaviour) should be harmonized EU-wide, with greater convergence of national rules and advertising restrictions at EU level;

20. Urges the self-regulatory bodies to reach an agreement on efficient forms of monitoring advertising in respect of the New Media;


21. Suggests that the Commission encourage all parties concerned to draw up a self-regulatory code for the advertising industry to combat all forms of discrimination;

22. Calls on the Commission to continue its efforts aimed at achieving a realistic portrayal in the media and in advertising of modern women playing an active role in the world of work and undertaking tasks in society and to include advertising in its studies on the new understanding of the roles of the sexes;

23. Suggests to the Commission that a European advertising prize should be awarded by analogy with the NIKI prize;

24. Urges the Commission to revise the existing European legal framework for advertising and stresses the need for greater convergence of national rules to guarantee, at the same time, an appropriate level of protection of the common interest;

25. Calls on the Commission to transpose the action platform of Peking in respect of women and the media and to set out the results in the annual report;

26. Calls on the Commission to encourage cooperation between professional associations, women's organization and non-governmental organizations active at Community level in advertising and the media;

27. Specifically supports the Commission in its plans to create a coherent legal framework for the protection of human dignity and against abuse of the new audiovisual and information service;

28. Instructs its President to forward this resolution and the report of its committee comprising the explanatory statement and the annexes to the Council, the Commission and the governments and parliaments of the Member States, the advertising regulatory bodies of the Member States and the federations of producers of advertising organized at European level.