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Parliamentary questions
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8 April 2009
by Hiltrud Breyer (Verts/ALE)
to the Commission

 Subject: Gender-neutral language in EU publications
 Answer in writing 

Equality between women and men is a fundamental value of the European Union. It is one of the EU’s basic tasks to eliminate inequalities and promote the equal treatment of men and women. Since language may be used to exclude and discriminate, it is important to employ language which is gender-neutral. In 2003 the European Parliament adopted a ‘Report on gender mainstreaming in the European Parliament’ (P5_TA(2003)0098(1)), which formulated a number of objectives including the promotion of gender-neutral language in Parliament documents and in Parliament’s communications and information policy.

1. Has the Commission adopted any rules on the use of gender-neutral language in its documents or in its communications and information policy?

2. If so, how has the use of gender-neutral language been ensured?

3. Why do the German editions of EU teaching materials such as ‘Education on Energy’ (ISBN 92-79-00770-X) generally use only the masculine form [e.g. of the word for ‘pupil’]? Does the Commission not see a danger of pupils being presented with inappropriate role models?

4. On the one hand the EU’s own publication ‘Science Education NOW’ (ISBN 978-92-79-05659-1) recommends that girls’ self-confidence and participation in science subjects should be increased, but on the other hand the book itself mainly uses masculine forms. Does the Commission agree that this amounts to passing on undesirable stereotypes through education?

5. Why does the German version of the European Ombudsman’s website use only the masculine form when addressing citizens?

(1)OJ C 61 E, 10.3.2004, p. 384.

Original language of question: DEOJ C 189, 13/07/2010
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