Italy must never forget the important contribution many Italian women gave seventy years ago to the liberation of the country from fascism and to writing its Constitution. The recognition of the vote and the extension of the political rights to women was one of the foundational elements of the Republic. Today, like back then, we need the same spirit of social cohesion, participation, and reconciliation between the different cultures that characterized the experience of the Constituent Assembly, where the authoritative presence of women played a decisive role in delineating the rights of the citizens. The CISL syndicate has always claimed the social dialogue between the institutions, political forces, and the intermediate bodies is the way to broaden the areas of participation and handle responsibly problems and emergencies in the country. Starting from removing the different obstacles that, 70 years later, still do not guarantee effective gender equality between man and woman.
“Women workers have the same rights and the same wages as working men when they do the same job” of many women involved in the union and in the many associations that have fought in recent years for a fair and equal status with men in all political, economic, and social expressions. We have obtained many achievements in favor of women. But, unfortunately, there is still a long way to go. There is still a gap of over twenty percentage points between women and men employment. It is exactly the insufficient work of women that weighs more heavily on the national employment rate, one of the lowest on European level. One woman out of 3 leaves her job after having her first child. In many cases, the reasons why women give up on motherhood are directly connected to the inadequacy of services in support of parenthood.
In Italy, only 18% of children manage to find a place in public nursery schools. There are no policies aimed at reconciling private time and working times, as it successfully happens in other European countries that are far ahead of us in reconciling home, family, and professional life. The Italian situation is not of the best ones also in terms of wages: latest 2015 figures show 7.3% lower wages for women, a result that is worse than that of 2008 (4.9%). It is not only a problem of laws that need enforcement. We have to do more with national, company, and territorial bargaining, creating the necessary conditions to valorize the specificity of women’s work. Even current laws on pensions must be urgently changed because they constitute a serious disadvantage for women, who cannot stay at work till the age of 65-67 in many activities, while also taking care of his family. Our battle is not ideological nor conservative.
It is a matter of civilization, a question we have put forward in international fora and in countries where women are exploited, marginalized, and kept away from any process of development and integration. Not to mention violence and abuse against women, which often takes place both inside and outside the home. That is why we hope that the anniversary of June 2 will also become an opportunity to seriously discuss the role of women in Italian society, the right to maternity leave, concrete support policies for the family, things that have been repeatedly invoked by Pope Francis and President of the Republic, Mattarella.
We must make everyone understand that women’s work should not happen at the expense of the family. On the opposite: work is the main instrument of women’s emancipation, specifically, it allows to create a family and become a mother. That is what our “founding fathers,” asked, men and women who would have rebuilt the country with foresight and institutional balance after the fall of fascism. Learning that lesson, we can draw new horizons of growth and development, celebrate the extraordinary role of women in the European and Italian societies, which are more and more multiethnic and multicultural.
Annamaria Furlan, CISL Secretary General