The Italian Almanac

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the naming of kids is a difficult matter

Italian News - August 29

Women MPs have set their sights on legislation that rules Italian children must take their fathers' surnames. Women parliamentarians have presented 13 different bills - 10 to the House and three to the Senate - to change the law that stops children from taking their mother's name unless the father is unknown.

Parliament is slated to discuss the issue when it opens after the summer recess next week. The bills feature a wide range of possible ways of breaking with hundreds of years of tradition. Some propose that parents choose which family name to give their child at birth, as in Britain. Others suggest a dual-surname system be adopted, with children taking one surname from both parents, as in Spain.

Female lawmakers are confident that enough bipartisan support can be garnered to overcome conservative opposition, which has blocked change in the past, especially since the April elections won by the centre left saw the number of women in parliament increase sharply. Italy' parliament now contains a record 148 female senators and deputies, up from 95 in the last legislature.

"I think this is an issue that everyone can agree on in principle. It won't take much to reach a consensus on adding the mother's surname," said Daniela Santanche', a member of the right-wing Alleanza Nazionale party. "Women always find a point of agreement". Katia Bellillo of the Italian Communist Party is also optimistic, although she prefers the alternative solution. "Italian women feel the time has come to let the parents decide which surname they give their children," she said.

Italy's Supreme Court and the Constitutional Court have both criticized the current system and called on parliament to reform it. In February the Constitutional Court described it as a "dated legacy of a patriarchal concept of the family" that is "no longer consistent with the constitutional principle of equality between men and women".