Books which portray ‘traditional’ images of mothers caring for their children or fathers going out to work could be banned if a European Parliament report on gender equality is implemented.
An EU report claims that ‘gender stereotyping’ in schools influences the perception of the way boys and girls should behave and damages women’s career opportunities in the future, the Daily Mail reports.
The report has been slammed as “politically correct nonsense” by one MEP, while other critics claimed that the report's proposals to amend ‘study materials’ so that men and women are no longer depicted in their traditional roles could mean the withdrawal of children’s classics, such as Enid Blyton’s The Famous Five series, Paddington Bear or Peter Pan.
The report says: ‘Children are confronted with gender stereotypes at a very young age through television series, television advertisements, study materials and educational programmes, influencing their perception of how male and female characters should behave.
‘Special educational programmes and study materials should therefore be introduced in which men and women are no longer used in examples in their ‘traditional roles’, with the male as the breadwinner of the family and the female as the one who takes care of the children.’
The report adds: ‘With reference to media and advertisement, it must also be noted that unsupervised television viewing among children and youngsters starting at a very early age is on the rise.
‘Negative gender stereotypes can therefore have a significant influence on young women’s confidence and self-esteem, particularly on teenagers, resulting in a restriction of their aspirations, choices and possibilities for future career possibilities.’
Calling for EU ‘legislation’ to tackle the problem, the committee recommends: ‘Despite the EU’s commitment to equality between men and women, there is still a gap in legislation providing for non-discrimination against women and gender equality in the areas of social security, education and the media, emphasises the need for new legislation in these areas.’
The document calls on the European Commission to ‘take the issue of gender equality into account in all policy fields.’
Conservative MEP Marina Yannakoudakis, who serves as Spokesman on Women’s Rights in the European Parliament, said, “Once again the women’s rights committee is wasting the parliament’s time and taxpayers’ money with left-wing, politically correct nonsense.”
“I’m all for getting women into the workplace, but I believe that women have a choice to make about whether they go out to work or stay at home and raise a family,” she said.
June O’Sullivan, chief executive of the London Early Years Foundation, also criticised the draft recommendations. ‘We must not confuse political issues with how we present the world to children. The fact is most women take the caring roles and most men want to go out to work,’ she said.
‘You only need to stand at the school gates to see this. Stereotypes are such because they reflect a majority situation. Children are not easily fooled - they see what they see and no amount of manipulation of images will change their thinking.’