The European labour market is fragmented, with a predominance of women and migrant workers in low paid, low skilled and temporary jobs. An extremely high rate of people with disabilities are out of work, and company boards and management positions are mainly covered by men. Migrants and persons with disabilities are rarely present or showcased as positive role models, and men and women reflect those characteristics that are stereotypically allocated to them (e.g. science, business and sports for men vs nursing, caring and teaching for women).

This division also is visible in marketing campaigns directed to children. Early years are key in the social and cognitive development of every child and the impact that play and toys have on child development contribute to shaping the child’s behaviour, interests and choices that he/she will make in later life.

The #ToysAndDiversity campaign aims at detecting and putting a light on gender stereotypes in toys catalogues and shops but also aims at showing whether the toys are inclusive towards children with disabilities and with migrant background.

COFACE Families Europe launched the #ToysAndDiversity campaign in December 2015. We started with a social media campaign and the launch of a European study on toy catalogues. One year after, thanks to all of you that responded to the #stereotypehunting on social media along 2016, COFACE Members and other partners, we are ready to launch the first outcomes of this project.

Why we did this? Because early years are key in the social and cognitive development of every child and the impact that play and toys have on child development contribute to shape the child’s behaviour, interests and choices that he/she will make in later life. Therefore, to raise awareness and analyse the situation of representation of children in the media, we chose as a starting point toy catalogues.

 

General call to action for Xmas 2016

We invite parents and families, primary buyers of toys, to closely consider our principles in order to be fully aware of the impact of the choices they make when buying presents this Christmas.

We call on industries directly and indirectly connected with the world of toys and children’s products to closely consider using our six principles (*) as guidance in the production and marketing of toys in the future. Their products and the image of society they give through their marketing can significantly contribute to making or breaking stereotypes, and this should be fully acknowledged.

We need a joint effort by industry, schools, NGOs, consumer associations, and families, to ensure children have the right to play without making pre-conceived assumptions about their choices and preferences.  We need to offer children the widest range possible of toys and let them choose  what to play with and who to become.

You can join us, at any time of the year, in raising awareness on the impact of toy marketing, by sending us your photos of positive or negative toy stereotypes or posting them online with the #ToysAndDiversity hashtag.


(*) Toys&Diversity: Six key Principles

On the basis of the study, COFACE Families Europe developed six key principles with a view to raising awareness of our key concerns in relation to toy marketing and advertising. The headline principles are the following (see details in the study):

  1. Let children decide what they want to play with: No more division into boys and girls sections.
  2. Do not channel children into stereotyped professions and life patterns: Let them play to be whomever they want to be.
  3. Join your voice to end gender-based violence and bullying: promote non-violent images and behaviours.
  4. Represent families in their diversity.
  5. Children with disabilities play too: stop their invisibility and include them in the toy world.
  6. Children with a diverse racial background: let’s move to a fair representation.