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, COFACE Members and other partners, launched the first outcomes of this project.

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):

  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.

Check out the studyToys catalogue in Europe

Read our press release “Toy catalogues in Europe: Making or Breaking Stereotypes?