RECOMMENDATION 1281 (1995)1 on gender equality
1.The Assembly believes that education for all girls and boys is a fundamental human
right, regardless of gender, race, ethnic origin, family background or personal wealth.
2.In line with its Recommendation 1229 (1994) on equality of rights between men and
women, the Assembly asserts the importance of gender equality in education and believes
that it should be guaranteed by the educational systems of all States Party to the
European Cultural Convention.
3.It acknowledges the action already initiated by the Council of Europe on gender
equality and in particular by the Standing Conference of European Ministers of Education
(11th session in 1979 and 14th session in 1985) on gender equality in education and by the
Steering Committee for Equality between Women and Men on participation of women in public
and political life.
4.The Assembly is however concerned that:
i.co-education has led to more equality but in many countries there continue to be
institutionalised and non-institutionalised forms of discrimination of girls and women;
ii.traditional gender roles in education still strongly steer and reduce the choices of
both sexes as regards education, occupation and lifestyles, thus reinforcing the male
norms in division of family responsibilities and in the labour market, as well as their
dominance in decision-making processes;
iii.women and girls are still subject to sexual harassment and violence in society and
5.The Assembly believes therefore that strategies should be developed which create for
girls and boys, women and men, de jure and de facto freedom of access to and freedom of
choice in education including initial and further education, vocational training and adult
education. Education should help them to develop their full potential, to preserve their
personal integrity, to aim at economic independence and to participate fully in society
and in political life.
6.Girls and boys should be presented with positive role models of women of the past and
present as a valid educational concept for removing stereotypes. Women as principals and
decision-makers within a gender-balanced educational workforce can also be considered as
7.Childbearing and motherhood have a considerable impact on women's activities.
Knowledge of this, and also the sharing of responsibilities in the home and with the
raising of children, should be a basic part of the school curriculum for boys and girls.
8.Gender equality in education can only be achieved by meeting the needs of employed
women, especially those working in the educational fields, and by counteracting existing
discrimination. The educational authorities of the member states should do all they can to
achieve fixed and regular school timetables and provide mothers with support, such as
child-oriented timetabling and provisions for personal choice of child care.
9.Gender equality in education must be part of an overall strategy for a more
egalitarian and democratic society, considering that women of the past and present have
contributed eminently to European culture and society and it is necessary to incorporate
into education the knowledge that feminists have gathered on this contribution.
10.The Assembly acknowledges the significant contribution of the women's movement and
feminist researchers and activists to human rights and gender equality in the educational
field as well as in the political, social, cultural and economic fields and appreciates
the expertise gathered in analysing and counteracting sexism and racism.
11.It believes that democracy can only be taught in schools in a democratic setting
respecting the cultural plurality in Europe, and stressing the fundamental principle of
equality between girls and boys, women and men, whatever differences there may be between
them, their different viewpoints and experiences.
12.The Assembly, therefore, recommends that the Committee of Ministers ask the
competent authorities of member states to promote education in human rights with a
gender-sensitive approach and to take measures to accelerate de jure and de facto equality
in education, promoting actively equal rights, equal chances, equal treatment in a
gender-sensitive way of girls and boys, women and men, whether students or belonging to
the workforce in education, and in particular to:
i.create strategies for freedom of access to and freedom of choice in education, for
girls and boys, women and men, including initial and further education, vocational
training and adult education;
ii.identify and spread good practice in gender sensitive education, for example by:
a.revising teaching material and methods with a view to reinforcing non-discriminatory
language and non-sexist teaching and to placing greater emphasis on equality and
b.revising stereotypes and role models for girls and boys, improving their self-images
and providing them with positive role models while counteracting concepts of inequality
and male violence;
c.better presentation of the importance of women in European history and culture;
d.taking greater consideration of the needs of girls and women and of boys and men for
education in the fields of health, sex, family planning and parenthood;
e.directing attention in media education to non-sexist, non-racist and non-violent
scenes, avoiding verbal and visual violence against girls and women;
iii.include gender sensitivity and the promotion of equality in all initial and
in-service teacher training and in the training of vocational advisors;
iv.initiate gender-sensitive research, including the participation of researchers on
feminism and migration;
v.improve the gender balance of teaching and administrative staff and school
vi.recognise the strategic and supportive role played by teachers and parents in the
removal of discrimination, for example by improving communications between schools and
parents especially for migrant girls, and by the provision of support services for working
13.The Assembly further recommends that the Committee of Ministers:
i.place special emphasis on activities in the field of monitoring gender equality in
education and provide in due course information on the situation within the area of the
European Cultural Convention;
ii.expand international consultation and exchange of experiences with regard to
legislation, educational programmes, studies or debates on topical problems relating to
gender equality in education;
iii.initiate exchange programmes for teachers, students and researchers and increase
the possibilities for training and research in gender-sensitive education, in both cases
with due regard for gender-balance;
iv.instruct the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance to consider the
dimension of gender equality in education in its work;
v.re-establish the former joint working party of the Steering Committee for Equality
between Women and Men and the Council for Cultural Co-operation to study the effects of
co-education and to organise subsequently an international policy-making conference.
1. Text adopted by the Standing Committee, acting on behalf of the
Assembly, on 9 November 1995.
See Doc. 7366, report of the Committee on Culture and Education, rapporteur: Baroness
Gould of Potternewton.