The Italian Almanac

women in the Italian government

Italian News - November 22

Italy should follow the lead set elsewhere and thrust women to the helm of the country's political life, President Giorgio Napolitano said Tuesday. Napolitano said the "time has been ripe for some time" to have women in the top positions of the Italian state and called for a change of mentality. He was speaking after being asked to comment on Segolene Royal's election as the Socialist candidate for the French Presidency and Nancy Pelosi's nomination as speaker of the US House of Representatives.

"Women can obtain the recognition they deserve if there is a functioning democracy and there are democratic procedures within the parties," the 81-year-old head of state said. "The best road to take is changing the democratic life of the parties, which then present their candidates. In Italy there are good examples of women who have reached positions of responsibility, but they are limited".

Napolitano's comments sparked off a chorus of agreement. "The time has come for more women at the top," said Equal Opportunities Minister Barbara Pollastrini. "More democracy in the parties is needed to create space for women and young people. "I consider the authoritative words of the head of state a form of moral support for the start of a season of reform that aims to bring in a new era of equality".

A report produced as part of the EU Equal project and released Tuesday revealed that 17.3% of MP in the Italian parliament are women. This is above the world average of 16.8%, the report said, but below the 19.2% that is the average for the European members of the OECD. Premier Romano Prodi has been criticised for including only six women in his 26-member cabinet. Prodi has said he is in favour of quotas for women in parliament.