France publishes charter on gender-neutral toys for children

Toymakers and retailers in France have signed a new government charter committing to make children's toys gender neutral.

France publishes charter on gender-neutral toys for children
Photo: AFP

Ahead of the Christmas shopping season, toy manufacturers, retailers and advertisers have signed up to an Economy Ministry charter that aims to end the practice of designating toys as 'for girls' and 'for boys'.

The charter follows a long consultation with people in the toy industry, parliamentarians, consumer groups and TV companies about how to better make all types of toys available to all children.

Now the charter is signed the following steps will be taken;

  • A practical guide is to be produced for the industry that addresses things like advertising of toys, product design, catalogues, shelving and layout in toy stores and the design of websites selling toys.
  • A training module is being created for sales staff focusing of advising buyers based on a child's age and interests, rather than their gender.
  • Training will also be offered to childcare professionals on avoiding gender stereotyping
  • Toys and games with a STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) theme should use both boys and girls in their advertising and sales staff should recommend them for children of both genders
  • The advertising union l'Union des marques will create a prize for the best gender-neutral advertising of toys
  • Awareness campaigns will be created on social media

A progress report will be organised in March 2021 to examine how the sales period over the winter, and in particular the Christmas period, operated.


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How is Denmark’s economy handling inflation and rate rises?

Denmark's economy is now expected to avoid a recession in the coming years, with fewer people losing their jobs than expected, despite high levels of inflation and rising interest rates, The Danish Economic Council has said in a new report.

How is Denmark's economy handling inflation and rate rises?

The council, led by four university economics professors commonly referred to as “the wise men” or vismænd in Denmark, gave a much rosier picture of Denmark’s economy in its spring report, published on Tuesday, than it did in its autumn report last year. 

“We, like many others, are surprised by how employment continues to rise despite inflation and higher interest rates,” the chair or ‘chief wise man’,  Carl-Johan Dalgaard, said in a press release.

“A significant drop in energy prices and a very positive development in exports mean that things have gone better than feared, and as it looks now, the slowdown will therefore be more subdued than we estimated in the autumn.”

In the English summary of its report, the council noted that in the autumn, market expectations were that energy prices would remain at a high level, with “a real concern for energy supply shortages in the winter of 2022/23”.

That the slowdown has been more subdued, it continued was largely due to a significant drop in energy prices compared to the levels seen in late summer 2022, and compared to the market expectations for 2023.  

The council now expects Denmark’s GDP growth to slow to 1 percent in 2023 rather than for the economy to shrink by 0.2 percent, as it predicted in the autumn. 

In 2024, it expects the growth rate to remain the same as in 2003, with another year of 1 percent GDP growth. In its autumn report it expected weaker growth of 0.6 percent in 2024.

What is the outlook for employment? 

In the autumn, the expert group estimated that employment in Denmark would decrease by 100,000 people towards the end of the 2023, with employment in 2024  about 1 percent below the estimated structural level. 

Now, instead, it expects employment will fall by just 50,000 people by 2025.

What does the expert group’s outlook mean for interest rates and government spending? 

Denmark’s finance minister Nikolai Wammen came in for some gentle criticism, with the experts judging that “the 2023 Finance Act, which was adopted in May, should have been tighter”.  The current government’s fiscal policy, it concludes “has not contributed to countering domestic inflationary pressures”. 

The experts expect inflation to stay above 2 percent in 2023 and 2024 and not to fall below 2 percent until 2025. 

If the government decides to follow the council’s advice, the budget in 2024 will have to be at least as tight, if not tighter than that of 2023. 

“Fiscal policy in 2024 should not contribute to increasing demand pressure, rather the opposite,” they write. 

The council also questioned the evidence justifying abolishing the Great Prayer Day holiday, which Denmark’s government has claimed will permanently increase the labour supply by 8,500 full time workers. 

“The council assumes that the abolition of Great Prayer Day will have a short-term positive effect on the labour supply, while there is no evidence of a long-term effect.”