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Tuesday, 27 May 2008


A report on how marketing and advertising affect equality between women and men has just been passed by the European Parliament Women' Rights Committee.

It is an important document, highlighting how advertising fuels and highlights inequalities based on gender. Since advertising is designed to influence us, its impact on sexual equality cannot be underestimated. The report drew heavily on research conducted in Germany by the European Association of Craft, Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises and the Ministry of Labour in Poland. which showed that gender stereotypes consolidate narrow gender roles, thus restricting life opportunities.

I put down amendments to the report on body image, drawing attention to a publication by the British Medical Association entitled "Eating Disorders, Body Image and the Media" which states that media portrayals of the ideal body image can adversely affect the self esteem of women, particularly teenagers and those susceptible to eating disorders. One of my amendments called on advertisers to consider their use of extremely thin women more carefully while another pointed out that advertising could be a strong tool in challenging and tackling stereotypes.

I also submitted an amendment expressing extreme concern at the advertising of sexual services in local newspapers and other publications, something I know Harriet Harman, Barbara Follett, Fiona Mactaggart and other sisters in the House of Commons are taking up.

All my amendments were passed by the Women's Committee and will now be voted on by the whole European Parliament.

1 comment:

Red Maria said...


Your words on womens' rights are stirring indeed.

But why in 2005 did you vote against amendment 6366 to the European budget which said:

"Community assistance shall not be given to any government or organisation or programme which supports or participates in the management of a programme which involves human rights abuses such as coercive abortion or involuntary sterilisation or infanticide. This implements the specific Cairo ICPD prohibition on coercion or compulsion in sexual and reproductive health matters . The Commission shall present each year a report on the implementation of the EU’s external assistance covering this programme."

How do you explain your commitment to gender equality in light of your opposition to amendment 6366 in 2005?

I note that according to your biography you are a member of the European Parliament's working group on the separation of religion and politics. The secretariat for this group is provided by the notoriously anti-Catholic group, "Catholics" for Choice.

"Catholics" for Choice having no discernible membership is largely funded by wealthy foundations, among them the Playboy Foundation.

You stress your feminist concern at the advertising of sexual services in newspapers. How, then, do you explain the obvious contradiction in your working with a group which has accepted funding from the pornography industry?

Again, I look forward to reading your replies to *all* these points.