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MODULE 5 - Unit 4



Past and Current state of the women workforce in Italy

From the First World War to UsDuring the First World War the job vacancies left by the men at war were largely occupied by women; the contribution of women to the war effort sparked the debate on the judicial condition of women in Italy; a 1919 law abolished the need for women to have their husband’s permission to work in public offices.Much like in Spain, what little rights women had started to gain at the start of the century, saw their abrupt end with the rise of the fascist regime that saw procreation as a woman’s main duty. Policies are implemented to trap Italian women in their role as mothers and wives, totally dependent on their husband. In 1930, law 653 limited women’s access to those considered “unsanitary or morally dangerous jobs”. The 1938 racial laws see another hard strike to women’s emancipation in Italy as a good percentage of the few women in academic positions were Jewish. Women could not make-up more than 10% of the workforce unless it was a job “meant” for women. Progressively, after the war, more and more liberal laws were promulgated, from equal pay to men and women (1956) to same marriage rights (1979) to maternity benefits to freelance professionals (1990).


Socio-economic context in the modern to present dayDespite the progress made, those same issues we previously analyzed in other sections are well present in Italy too: women work less hours, have lower incomes, less prestige in the workplace. The pandemic health crisis affected women disproportionately and even though we have one of the smallest pay gaps (4.7%) in the EU (below us only Romania 3.3% and Luxembourg 1.3%) that is only because we’re not taking other factors into consideration. For example, the women employment rate is the second worst of the whole Union (48,5% against a 64% European average) and women in Italy work, on average, only 33 hours against the 40.2 of the men. Taking these factors into consideration, the gender pay gap widens considerably. Like in other countries women work more part-time and cover less prestigious positions, also a factor.Italy scores 65 points out of a 100 in the Gender Equality Index (14th in Europe and 4 points below the European average); even though Italy’s score has increased of 10.5 points since 2018, there have been no change at all since 2018 (+0.3 points). Italy performs the highest in the domain of health (ranked 11th) and best in the subdomain of access to health services (8th); notably the country’s performance could be significantly improved in the domain of work where Italy consistently ranks last among EU member states. Even tho they have improved in the domain of power (+27 points since 2010), since 2018 they have decreased in the domain of knowledge and gender segregation in education has markedly increased in this short time (-6.3 points).

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