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98 EN Official Journal of the European Communities C 64/81

Opinion of the Committee of the Regions on ‘Equal opportunities for girls and boys in leisure
activities and especially in EU youth and sport programmes’

(98/C 64/14)


having regard to its decision of 12 March 1997, under the fourth paragraph of Article 198c of
the Treaty establishing the European Community, to draw up an opinion on ‘Equal
Opportunities for girls and boys in leisure activities and especially in EU youth and sport
programmes’ and to direct Subcommission 7: Youth and Sport to draft the relevant opinion;

having regard to the Council Decision of 22 December 1995 on a medium-term Community

action programme on equal opportunities for men and women (1);

having regard to its Opinion on equal opportunities for women and men in the EU (2);

having regard to the draft opinion (CdR 182/97 rev. 2) adopted by Subcommission 7 on
26 September 1997 (rapporteur: Mrs Sundback);

adopted the following opinion at its 20th plenary session on 19 and 20 November 1997
(meeting of 20 November).

1. Introduction choice is appreciated and approved by society to the

same extent; here guarantees are required in the shape
of a Commission drive to ensure that the equal oppor-
1.1. The Committee of the Regions takes as its tunities dimension is mainstreamed into all decisions at
premise the fact that equal treatment for girls and boys all levels when framing, implementing and following up
is a basic, legal principle, and that equality means that the various Community measures and programmes,
girls can take part fully in political, economic, social with particular reference to EU youth, culture and sport
and cultural life on equal terms with boys. programmes.

1.5. The Committee of the Regions endorses the

1.2. The Committee of the Regions notes with satis- Commission’s decision to implement the ‘main-
faction that the Council — at the highest level, i.e. the streaming’ principle within the fourth Framework Pro-
European Council — has confirmed that equality is one gramme (1996-2000) for equal opportunities, so that
of the EU’s fundamental tasks. The Commission’s interaction and cooperation at all levels (national,
commitment to this issue includes its decision to ensure regional, local and Community) and in all areas incor-
that the equality principle must be respected in all areas, porate equal opportunities in the implementation of all
and permeate all Community measures. Further to this common measures and their national counterparts.
overall objective, the Committee of the Regions would
stress the need for youth measures and programmes to
take account of equal opportunities for girls and boys. 2. General comments

1.3. At the same time, the Committee of the Regions 2.1. The concept of ‘leisure’
feels it should be stated clearly that the EU does
not have sole jurisdiction in the promotion of equal
opportunities; many measures need to be worked out at 2.1.1. In everyday language, the term ‘leisure’ is
national, regional and local level, and by means of linked to the concept of ‘work’. The church and religious
single-minded efforts within voluntary organizations, authorities have historically had a very significant
the media, and last but not least, in partnership between influence in determining the nature and scope of leisure
girls and boys. time. First of all, ‘leisure’ consisted of rest from heavy
manual toil. Since, in earlier time, women’s working
hours spanned virtually every hour of the day and every
1.4. The Committee of the Regions feels it is day of the week, it was almost exclusively men who had
important for girls and boys to have the same oppor- leisure time at their disposal. This has been the case
tunities to choose leisure activities freely and that their until today.

2.1.2. Leisure time is a consequence of the introduc-

(1) OJ L 335, 30.12.1995, p. 37. tion of paid employment, and builds on the need for an
(2) OJ C 34, 3.2.1997, p. 39. eight hour working day, eight hours’ rest and eight
C 64/82 EN Official Journal of the European Communities 27.2.98

hours’ leisure time. This generally recognized division the sharper the differences in the level of activity between
of time provided the basis for the development of a girls and boys appear. Generally speaking, however, it
leisure culture which was principally instigated by men can be asserted that girls in the lower social classes
and meets men’s needs for relaxation, enjoyment and participate least in organized leisure activities.
recreation. Traditionally male leisure activities have set
the pattern for leisure policies, and are held in high
esteem by the media and society’s various institutions.

2.2.4. The choice of leisure activities reinforces

2.1.3. Although the number of women in the labour characteristics which we traditionally think of as mascu-
force is growing, and more and more women have line and feminine. Sport and athletics make men of boys
become financially self-sufficient, they still bear the onus by rewarding individuality, performance, competi-
of responsibility for the home and the family. Apart tiveness and group loyalty. Staff running open schemes
from the time they spend at work, they have over the in youth and leisure centres often attach great importance
years carried out unpaid housework; this could also be to boys whom they believe risk social exclusion. As a
seen as a reason why men have been able to develop preventive measure, activities are set up to boost the
their leisure activities. boys’ self-confidence. Girls who lack confidence become
passive and withdrawn, which often means that they
fail to receive sufficient support and attention.
2.1.4. Women’s opportunities to commit themselves
on a regular basis to leisure activities are seriously
restricted owing to the fact that they have two jobs, and
because they tend to see to others’ needs for care and 2.2.5. When choosing a leisure activity, boys identify
attention. Women have fewer opportunities to choose strongly with high-status ideals and values which are
their leisure activities freely. Women’s leisure time is associated with strength and success. From their point
thus more fragmentary and private, and often coincides of view, leisure activities which cross the gender barrier
with another activity. Women often associate such are complicated, but can still be positive.
positive aspects as satisfaction and happiness with the
time they have left for themselves after fulfilling their
duties at home, at work and caring for other people.

2.2.6. Girls’ leisure habits often include facets such

as beauty, empathy and cooperation. Girls who play
sport are often at a disadvantage because of the male
2.2. Leisure for girls and boys ideal which characterizes these activities, plus the fact
that the norms and values that dictate the allocation of
resources for sport result in girls being treated unfairly.
Such anti-female discrimination in sport is reflected
2.2.1. The leisure patterns of men and women reflect in the scant media attention given to girls’ general
the traditional gender roles and help to entrench them. performances in sporting events.
Girls and boys are moulded into that pattern, as is
shown clearly in research into their respective activities.
If we study the level of activity at athletics and
sports facilities and at youth and leisure centres and
associations, we find that boys are represented much 2.2.7. Much of girls’ leisure time is relationship-
more heavily than girls. In the cultural sphere, the ratio centred, and develops social skills such as communi-
is much more balanced. cation and empathy. Reading, going for a stroll, visiting
a sick friend or helping with the housework during their
free time are all activities which teach girls to adapt
their ‘leisure’ time to the needs of others, and to treat
2.2.2. Much political work is carried out by people social interaction as an activity in itself.
who hold positions of responsibility in their spare time.
The participation of women and girls in the democratic
process is greatest at local level, and decreases to the
advantage of men at regional, national and Community
level. It can thus be said that women and girls are first
2.2.8. The equal opportunities issue is reflected in the
and foremost leisure time politicians, whereas boys and
way girls choose to spend their leisure time. With
men move on from leisure time politics to more
traditional, gender-based leisure activities, much of girls’
influential posts further up the political ladder.
leisure activity is hidden away in the private sphere, and
considered less socially valuable. On the other hand,
when girls set about breaking through the gender barrier,
2.2.3. Besides gender, other variables determine the e.g. in sport, they are easily marginalized as being
level of activity: social group, age, ethnic origin, dis- weaker performers and less interesting. This makes it
ability, living in a town or sparsely-populated area. The difficult for girls to identify with the demands and
wider the range of aspects included in the comparison, general tenets of the sports movement. Regardless of
27.2.98 EN Official Journal of the European Communities C 64/83

whether girls have segregated or integrated leisure 3. Specific comments

activities, their commitment is likely to be less appreci-
ated than that of boys.

3.1. Leisure for all

2.3. Leisure policy

3.1.1. To promote a gender balance in this field,

2.3.1. If girls and boys are to be able to choose their attention must be paid to the merits of expressive leisure
leisure activities freely, in keeping with their own patterns. This can best be achieved in ‘open’ forms of
temperament and personal interests, leisure policy must activity in the local community. The community can
consciously adopt equal opportunities as an all- thus meet girls’ desire to shape — on their own terms
embracing objective. — the form and content of their leisure time. A specific
method has been successfully developed which involves
boosting the character development of girls — divided
2.3.2. In order to promote equality in the field of into small groups headed by specially trained leaders —
leisure, a broad leisure policy must be framed so that and teaching them to stand up for their rights and needs.
girls’ and women’s needs are met in full. Leisure cannot
only be considered in terms of the use made of time or
facilities; it must include experiences that have brought
the individual a sense of happiness and self-esteem. 3.1.2. One important premise for the promotion of
equal opportunities in leisure policy is that there should
be increased scope for women and girls to wield political
2.3.3. Two general concepts which can serve as red influence in the institutions and organizations which
thread in future debates on ways to boost equal make direct decisions on the allocation of leisure
opportunities for girls and boys are ‘instrumental and resources, and, generally, at all political levels, in order
expressive leisure patterns’, and ‘open and closed leisure to boost democracy as such.
activities and facilities’.

3.1.3. If girls and boys are to have an equal chance

2.3.4. Instrumental leisure activities are organized, to participate in integrated instrumental and expressive
and require the participant to accept certain clear, activities, decisions affecting these activities must be
specific objectives and rules. Moreover, the participant monitored at all levels of the planning, implementation
generally has to sign up for the activity and attend and impact assessment chain. A gender perspective
regularly. The activity takes place at fixed times. An should be mainstreamed and steer public investment in
expressive activity is characterized by the fact that it leisure facilities and other examples of allocation of
focuses on short-term goals. No regular participation is resources, e.g. public subsidies for leisure associations
required, and there is no fixed timetable. It takes place and various leisure projects. ‘Open’ facilities such as
whenever the individual so desires. libraries, swimming pools and recreation areas often
provide the right atmosphere for both instrumental and
expressive leisure patterns, which ought to culminate in
2.3.5. The dual concept of ‘open or closed activities real equality.
and facilities’ is based on the degree of accessibility of
the activity or the facility. Participation in ‘open’
activities requires a small organizational or financial
effort whereas the very organization of ‘closed’ activities 3.1.4. Equality within the field of sport would very
and facilities means that some people are given the probably increase if the more inclusive expression
opportunity to follow their leisure interests, whilst ‘physical activity’ were to underpin leisure policy, as
others are excluded. this covers considerably more than just competitive,
highly formalized male-oriented sport. Wide partici-
pation in physical activity is not just beneficial to sexual
2.3.6. It should be patently obvious that one of the equality; it also brings with it other democratic benefits,
premises for boosting equality between girls and boys such as the fact that the elderly and disabled can take
in the field of leisure is the deliberate allocation of public part. Local backing for safe, well-planned cyclepaths
resources in such a way that expressive leisure patterns and footpaths, park facilities and nature trails promote
are given the same status as instrumental ones, and that the most popular forms of recreation and exercise, i.e.
‘open’ leisure activities and facilities receive just as much walking, cycling and jogging.
support and funding as ‘closed’ leisure activities and
3.1.5. In order to create a more level playing field for
girls and boys to take part in instrumental and ‘closed’
2.3.7. If leisure activities are to provide joy and sporting activities, gender-bound power structures,
satisfaction, then it is extremely important from the assessments and attitudes should be identified and
point of view of equal opportunities that they should questioned. Girls who take part in integrated sporting
include social contact, enjoyment and aesthetic values. activities constantly run the risk of being undervalued,
C 64/84 EN Official Journal of the European Communities 27.2.98

both as performers and as girls. In order to boost girls’ pe’ programme, and to highlight the equal opportunities
self-esteem and confidence, the media and society’s aspect. The emphasis of the funding granted for youth
institutions should devote specific attention to girls’ exchange programmes, study visits, training for youth
sporting activities, and associations and clubs should leaders and pilot projects must be on taking into
make a concerted effort to create the right conditions consideration, promoting or highlighting equal oppor-
for girls to participate at all levels of sporting life. tunities, and helping girls and boys from all social
backgrounds and regions to participate on more equal
3.1.6. Girls from the lower social classes or particular
ethnic backgrounds, and girls who are disabled or come
from sparsely populated areas, must be targeted in 3.2.6. Similarly, cultural coordination programmes
particular, as they are often the victims of twofold such as Kaleidoscope and Ariane should be assessed
discrimination. The lack of equality means that girls from the equal opportunities standpoint, particularly
can easily become passive and socially isolated during with a view to stimulating boys’ interest in and commit-
their leisure activities, which can cause heavy reliance ment to cultural activities, and to developing types of
on the various social welfare and community services activity and action which reach out to young people
later in life. who are excluded from established arrangements.

3.1.7. Apart from family- and school-life, leisure 3.2.7. In this connection, the Committee of the
activities are vital to girls’ and boys’ chances of Regions would also point out that the comprehensive
developing into independent adults with a fulfilling youth exchange programmes implemented within the
lifestyle, and to their ability to use their leisure time framework of Community cooperation mainly take
positively and constructively, either alone or with others. place during leisure time, and that any activities thus
The share of public resources allocated to leisure is thus supported must fulfil the equal opportunities criteria,
an important question from an equality standpoint; so that girls and boys have the same opportunities to
decision-makers at local, regional, national and Com- develop their own — and everybody’s — future in an
munity level must therefore seriously address any dispari- increasingly equal Europe.
ties and lack of equal opportunities in this policy area.

3.2. Community measures 4. Conclusions

3.2.1. The Committee of the Regions calls for appro-

priations to be earmarked under equal opportunities 4.1. The Committee of the Regions would point out
programmes and funds for the purpose of research into that it will only be possible to achieve a more level
the leisure patterns of girls and boys in the EU countries, playing field for the leisure activity choices of girls and
and for projects which help to develop ways of providing boys if all leisure policy decisions make a determined
a more level playing field for girls and boys in their effort to avoid stereotyped gender thinking and expec-
choice of leisure activities. tations. Research has shown that the leisure habits of
girls and boys reflect a traditional gender pattern, but
also that other factors, such as social class, and ethnic
3.2.2. The Committee of the Regions feels it or religious background affect individual freedom of
important to carry out a critical assessment of the equal choice.
opportunities component in relevant youth projects and
programmes, and for these to be reviewed wherever this
consideration has not been taken on board satisfactorily. 4.2. The Committee of the Regions would emphasize
that all programmes affecting girls’ and boys’ leisure
3.2.3. The Committee of the Regions advocates an activities must aim for greater equality by highlighting
updating of existing programmes in order to place and eliminating conservative, discriminatory values and
expressive leisure patterns on a par with instrumental norms. If the objective of equal opportunities for girls
patterns when it comes to providing funding and and boys is to be achieved, ‘leisure’ should be defined
subsidies. broadly, so that leisure activities which break through
the gender barrier and attract greater commitment from
young people who are not members of associations, are
3.2.4. The Committee of the Regions takes the view covered by Community programmes.
that the Commission’s Eurathlon II programme must be
amplified to include the declared objective of promoting
greater equality between the sexes, and extending the
4.3. The Committee of the Regions would suggest
concept of ‘sport’ to include all conceivable forms of
that leisure activities research should be provided with
physical activity. In this case, the Eurathlon budget must
the resources to carry out a more comprehensive survey
be increased considerably if it is to cover a much wider
target group than the current rules allow for. of girls’ and boys’ leisure activities in the Member States,
at national, regional and local level, in order to use
collective know-how and statistics as the basis for
3.2.5. The Committee of the Regions feels it is updating programmes affecting leisure activities, and to
important to review the Community’s ‘Youth for Euro- genuinely increase equality and freedom of choice so
27.2.98 EN Official Journal of the European Communities C 64/85

that girls and boys feel that they can make free use of be further stepped up at local and regional level, and
their leisure time according to their personal interests that various means be mobilized to make it easier for
and abilities, regardless of whether an activity is thought women to move on to important, top-level positions.
of as typically male or female.
4.5. Finally, the Committee of the Regions would
4.4. The Committee of the Regions notes that a emphasize the need for all leisure time to be a source of
fundamental premise for the achievement of equal joy and satisfaction and that for reasons of increased
opportunities in leisure policy is that the framework for equality it is extremely important to ensure that, in the
political involvement should be changed to allow women context of all leisure time activities, consideration is
genuinely, as opposed to formally, to take an active part given to girls’ and boys’ needs for social contact,
in the decision-making process, that women’s influence enjoyment and esthetic values.

Brussels, 20 November 1997.

The Chairman
of the Committee of the Regions

Opinion of the Committee of the Regions on the ‘Green Paper: partnership for a new
organization of work’

(98/C 64/15)


having regard to the Commission Green Paper: partnership for a new organization of work
(COM(97) 128 final);

having regard to the decision taken by the Commission on 18 April 1997, under the first
paragraph of Article 198(c) of the Treaty establishing the European Community, to consult
the Committee of the Regions on the matter;

having regard to its decision on 11 June 1997 to direct Commission 8 — Economic and Social
Cohesion, Social Policy and Public Health — to draw up the relevant opinion;

having regard to the draft opinion CdR 288/97 rev. adopted by Commission 8 on 24 September
1997, rapporteurs: Mrs U. Olander and Mr S. Andersen,

unanimously adopted the following opinion at its 20th plenary session on 19 and 20 November
1997 (meeting of 20 November).

1. Introduction wishes and the exigencies of competitiveness; and

the Council’s Resolution on growth and employment,
adopted in Amsterdam in June 1997.

1.1. The Committee of the Regions (COR) would 1.2. In publishing the green paper, the Commission
refer to the Council meeting in Essen, December 1994, aims to stimulate debate around new ways of organizing
which particularly emphasized the need to increase the work. The Commission feels that the reorganization of
employment intensity of growth, particularly via a more work, on a basis of know-how, trust and quality would
flexible organization of work, in line with employees’ boost employment and competitiveness. Employers and