In Italy, women only began to take their place in society in 1945 (shortly after France) when, after the war, those who had reached the age of majority (21 at the time) began to be able to vote in political elections. In the same year, women were also granted the passive right to vote, enabling them to be elected and to vote provided they had reached the age of 25. In 1946, they were also able to take part in the referendum by which the Italian people passed from monarchy to republic. Women achieved these results because, after the Second World War, they had to start working, and so began to participate in the life of the city and become part of it.Two years later, the rights they had just acquired were enshrined in the Italian Constitution.*.

Women’s rights in Italy: something to read before your internship in Europe! Feminist movements and achievements in the second half of the 20th century

Around the 1960s, during the economic boom, women’s habits and collective mentality began to change.

Feminist movements were born, thanks in part to the example set by events in the United States and around the world: the aim was to defend the principles of equality and draw attention to issues of direct concern to women, such as sexuality, abortion and contraception, but also divorce. In 1963, Italian women won the right to take part in public jobs from which they were still emancipated. In 1970, women obtained a law on divorce, previously forbidden, shortly after France. This law attempted to be repealed in 1974, but fortunately failed. Instead, in 1975, a series of amendments were adopted in favor of women’s role within the family, such as: equality between spouses, conspiracy to deceive the husband and a correct division of family property. During these years, parliament passed a law allowing women to have abortions freely up to the fourth month. In 1981, Italy passed a law abolishing the right of honor and reparative marriage, i.e. the right to kill to avenge a betrayal and the absence of punishment for a rapist who marries his victim. Only ten years later, the first female Prime Minister was appointed in France (an event that had not yet taken place in Italy). At the same time, Italian women were admitted to the police force and, eight years later, to the armed forces.

Women’s rights in Italy: something to read before your work placement in Europe! 8 March “Women’s Day

Since March 8, 1977, International Women’s Day (or International Women’s Rights Day) has been celebrated worldwide. This holiday focuses on the struggle for women’s rights, in particular their emancipation, by recalling social, economic and political achievements. It draws attention to issues such as gender equality, reproductive rights, discrimination and violence against women. It has been celebrated in the United States since 1909, in some European countries since 1911 and in Italy since 1922. Italy has a long tradition of celebrating this anniversary. March 8, 1945 was the first Women’s Day in the regions of free Italy, but it was at the end of the war, on March 8, 1946, that it was celebrated throughout Italy, with the first appearance of its symbol: the mimosa. This flower still holds great importance in Italy today, so if you’re in Italy at this time, don’t forget to buy mimosas on the way for the most important women in your life ;).

Women’s rights in Italy: something to read before your work placement in Europe! The professional status of women

Around 2010, in the two aforementioned states, obligations were issued requiring companies to pay men and women equally and to apply the so-called “Quota Rosa”, according to which both sexes must be present in similar amounts within a company. Despite this, the National Labor Inspectorate points out that over 37,000 new mothers were forced to leave their jobs in 2019 due to the impossibility of reconciling work and family life. This trend continues in 2020, where women are still victims of the pay gap: for the same tasks, female workers earn less than men. Women’s access to the world of work is mainly oriented towards less prestigious and less well-paid positions than for men, again due to the closed mentality of many employers throughout Italy. What’s more, only one in four women makes it into a management position. Very recently, I heard a similar phrase: “Women are more inclined to humanistic subjects, because of their sensitivity, and less so to scientific ones”. This reinforces the evidence why the “Boot” is identified as a very misogynistic country. Consider that many women, due to Italy’s patriarchal situation, are forced to choose between professional and family life, because men are still seen as the ones who “have to bring home the bread”.

Women’s rights in Italy: something to read before your internship in Europe! Introduction of anti-theft and anti-femicide laws

Around 2013, special laws were formulated for harassment and femicide, which you’d think in an undeveloped country like Italy would have already been condemnable for years. However, this has not reduced crime, as violence, whether physical, psychological or verbal, is still widespread. Some 32% of women claim to have been victims, and many incidents go unreported. It’s a sobering thought that one of the world’s best-known countries for its many qualities is still lagging behind in some essential aspects of daily life. Indeed, in 2019, Italy ranked 76th in the Global Gender Gap Index (in politics, economics, education and health).

Women’s rights in Italy: something to read before your internship in Europe! Women in Italy, the figures.

Women living in Italy outnumber men, study more and often achieve better academic results than their peers, to such an extent that they now make up a preponderant share of the country’s intellectual capital.31 million women, or 51.3% of the population, live in Italy. Of these, 4.698 million are minors (15.2% of the total) and 7.788 million are over 65 (25.1%): the number of women over 65 has risen sharply in recent years. Today, young women study more than men (57.1% of university graduates and 55.4% of those enrolled in a university course in the last year are women), and they achieve better results: 53.1% graduate with a degree, compared to 48.2% of men; and the average mark on graduation is 103.7 for women and 101.9 for men. Women are also in the majority in postgraduate studies In Italy, there are 9 million 768,000 working women, representing 42.1% of the total number of employed people. In 2018, with a female activity rate of 56.2%, we are in last place in the ranking of EU countries, led by Sweden, where the female activity rate is 81.2%, and far from the 75.0% target that the European Union has set itself for 2020. We’re also lagging behind when it comes to the employment rate, which, in the 15-64 age bracket, is 49.5% for women and 67.6% for men, whereas in the European comparison made for the 20-64 age bracket, our rate is 53.1%, better only than Greece’s (which is 49.1%), and far behind the most virtuous countries.

Not only do women find it harder to enter the job market and find stable employment, they also have higher unemployment rates than men, so that last year’s unemployment rate in Italy was 11.8% for women and 9.7% for men.

In Italy, only one in four entrepreneurs or freelancers is a woman: 159,000 in absolute terms, compared to 468,000 for men; female managers represent just 27.0% of the total number of managers, a figure that puts us at the bottom of the European Union league table and well below the average value of 33.9%.

Beyond declarations of principle, in which a small minority of men admit that they don’t and never will devote themselves to household chores and child-rearing, in reality, men’s participation in “household chores” is mostly occasional, therefore: child-rearing and upkeep are considered feminine tasks, carried out daily by 97.0% of Italian women, even if the other parent increasingly plays an active or at least participatory role in this area.

Women’s rights in Italy: something to read before your internship in Europe! How are women perceived in Italy?

Given the discrimination still suffered by women in Italy, a two-pronged approach to equality needs to be implemented, mainly in the fields of work, family and gender violence: on the one hand, structural reforms and regulations are needed, and on the other, it’s important to promote a change in mentality.

The concept of equality must be transmitted in educational settings from early childhood onwards, conveying the enrichment represented by everyone’s diversity, which must be respected and valued. Teaching boys to behave and girls to protect and defend themselves, rather than the other way round, as is often the case in schools. So as to eliminate the prejudices that are unfortunately already present on the Italian peninsula. To enable women to develop their professional careers on an equal footing with men, we need more services for children and families at affordable prices, as well as a greater contribution from fathers, who should be able to take parental leave similar to that of mothers (an example could be taken from Scandinavian countries, which guarantee public crèches and working hours that also enable fathers to care for and enjoy their children), changing the way women are perceived by a large proportion of Italians.

As for violence, it should be condemned in all cases with harsher penalties and shorter trials, with help with legal fees, even for the middle class who don’t report it because hiring a professional would be expensive and unprofitable in the short term anyway.

Let’s hope that all this will change so that Italy can eliminate its shortcomings and become a country more open to all those who want to get to know it.

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