Quick facts

Qualitative facts

1.  Electoral system and party system and their impact on women

2.  History of Women's suffrage

3.  Legal framework for the promotion of a balance between men and women in political decision-making
   a.  Infrastructure responsible for EO
   b.  Women's participation in politics as a governmental objective and strategy
   c.  Actions initiated to promote women's participation in politics

Europäische Datenbank: Frauen in Führungspositionen

Report from Italy by our transnational partner
Maria Grazia Ruggerini

Quick facts
Women in Politics:
Women's suffrage active: 1945
Women's suffrage passive: 1945
1st Women in parliament: 1948: 7,8% Women in Parliament
1st Women in government: 1976 Tina Anselmi, Ministry of Work
1st Ministry on women's issues: 1996 Ministry of Equal Opportunities
% women in national Parliament: Lower House 11,3% (2000); Upper House 8,0% (2000)
% women in national Government: 14,1% (2000)
Electoral System:
Mixed: Members of the Lower House and Upper House (Senate) are elected with different modalities. Those of the Lower House are elected with a mixed system. 75% of the seats are allotted according to the majority system in single-member constituencies, 25% instead, according to the proportional system.
To the Upper House is in force the majority system with proportional adjustment. Senate: 315 members.
Quota:
Quota Law: 1993 two quota laws for quota regulation introduced. 1995 declared as not constitutional. Since then no quota regulation. No statutory quota regulation.
Party Quota: 50% Verdi, 40% DS, 40% PRC, 20% PPI
Education:
% women with secondary degree: 50,7 % (1998)
% women with degree in higher education: 44,5% (1998)
% women in senior management: 0,6% (1999)
Women's employment rates:
Full time: 32,8% (1998)
Part-time: 14,1% (1998)
Activity rate: 44,8% (1998)
Unemployment: 16,8% (1998)
*sources: Employment in Europe 1999 and Schlüsselzahlen zum Bildungswesen in der Europäischen Union, Amt für amtliche Veröffentlichungen der Europäischen Gemeinschaft 1997, Luxemburg; European Database - Women in Decision-Making and data by transnational experts.

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Qualitative facts

1. Electoral system and party system and their impact on women

Members of the Lower House and the Upper House (Senate) are elected with different modalities. Those of the Lower House are elected with a mixed system. 75% of the seats are allotted according to the majority system in single-member constituencies. The 25% remaining are instead allotted according to the proportional system (where women were elected the most often so far). The Senate has the majority system with proportional adjustment in force. The referendum abrogative of a law or of a governmental decree is also in force in Italy. It is intended as a direct democratic instrument requiring a minimum of 500.000 signatures of citizens.
The Italian Constitution in Art. 49, guarantees the right of citizens to join in and create political parties in order to contribute to the national policy guidelines. The law of the 26th of May 1999 envisages public financing to parties in terms of elections reimbursements. These are divided proportionally to the votes obtained. (As to the impact of this law on women, see 2.3).
Apart from the parties mainly represented in Parliament, there are many other minor parties. In March 2000, the 45th Italian political party was set up!

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2. History of Women's suffrage

The issue concerning women's right to vote was brought to light by the early associations of the feminist movements right after the constitution of the unified Italian State. This pathway, after changing fortunes, ceased with the uprising of fascism. Women's suffrage in Italy was finally introduced on the 1st of February 1945 because of a due right and was achieved by women participating in the struggle for liberation from fascism. On the 2nd of June 1946, the Italian women voted for the first time for the Institutional referendum (the choice between monarchy and republic) and for the constituent Assembly. 21 women were elected and took part in the drafting of the Italian Constitution. The women elected sustained the all-levels equality principle, obtaining important results mainly in regards to labour, wage, and protection of maternity.

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3. Legal framework for the promotion of a balance between men and women in political
decision-making


The fundamental principles can be found in Art.3 of the Italian Constitution, where the equality and non-discrimination principles are asserted: "All citizens have equal social dignity and are equal in front of the law, regardless of differences of sex, race, language, religion, political opinions". This same article lays the juridical foundations for the implementation of positive actions: "It is the duty of the Republic to eliminate economic and social obstacles, that limit the citizens' freedom and equality, prevent the full development of the individual and the real participation of all workers to the political, economic and social organisation of the country". The equality principle between men and women is reasserted in Art. 51.
In spite of such principles, women's representation in institutional positions in politics remained limited in Italy. This is the reason for introducing articles to inspire a readjustment of the numbers of men and women present in elective committees at different levels in the mid-90's. These articles were then passed (law 277\93 for elections at the House of Representatives, law 81\93 for local elections, law 43\95 regional elections). As a matter of fact, these laws, though with different provisions, asserted that both sexes had to be present in the electoral lists at a not-less than 30% rate.
In spite of the results (significant growth in the presence of women) produced by their enforcement, these articles were abolished by the Constitutional Court. On August 1995, the Court declared them illegitimate because they were in conflict with the equality principle asserted by the Constitution itself!
Regarding the institutions of politics at the local level, a provision already exists (law 81\93, art. 27) prescribing for municipal and provincial statutes for promotion procedures for both sexes. Other interesting cases concern the Public Administration. The legislative decree 29\1993 (amended by the decree 80\1998) envisages, among other things, the presence of at least 1/3 of women among its members of call for tender's commissions and, in the context of training, sections aimed at acquiring and developing "the gender culture in the Public Administration".
Some political parties include in their statutes a quota between 30 and 40% in the different decision-making bodies.

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a. Infrastructure responsible for EO

Italy has two main structures for EO policies.

1) On the 18th of May 1996 (when the Charter of Rome was signed!), a woman Minister for EO was appointed for the first time in Italy (Mrs Anna Finocchiaro in Mr. Prodi's 1996/98 Office, Mrs Laura Balbo in Mr. D'Alema's two terms). Such an appointment was the result of the need to constantly monitor the gender difference issue in all of the government's policies, in the hopes of realizing equal opportunities (against any type of discriminations) and increasing the weight of women in national politics. This need was felt by a part of the political groups and by the Italian women associations. It also was felt in the enforcement of the mainstreaming principle, ratified by Beijing's Platform. As a matter of fact, among the most significant tasks entrusted to the Minister are:
- coordination of government actions aimed at guaranteeing equal opportunities and eliminating and preventing all discrimination (determined by sex, ethnic origin, sexual orientation, etc).
- tasks of normative orientation and proposals concerning the implementation of the EO policies, and of difference culture policies, etc.
- nomination of representatives of the Prime Minister's Office in technical, administrative and advisory boards.
During recent years, women Ministers have been in action not only as representatives of the government, but also in close relation with women associations.
2) The Commission for equality and equal opportunities between men and women, the Advisory Board of the Prime Minister's Office, was established in 1984 by decree of the Prime Minister, as a consequence of the recommendations produced by Copenhagen's World Conference. The law 164 of 1990 (amended by the Decree of 1996) describes the task of "promoting equality between sexes, eliminating any direct and indirect discriminations against women and any obstacles limiting equality." The Commission stands for the "mediator" between the Government, other public administration representatives and civil society. It is composed of members from women's associations and movements, from women representatives from political parties, trade unions, and from women in cooperation with entrepreneurial contexts.
Among its activities are studies and research, publication events, and information and promotion campaigns. Last year many schools were in favour of initiatives to select schoolbooks that brought more awareness to gender difference.

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b. Women's participation in politics as a governmental objective and strategy

Recently, policies of the Italian government have reflected a more specific attention to the issue of women's presences in decision-making contexts. As a matter of fact, in March 1997, according to a proposal of the Minister for Equal Opportunities, Mrs Anna Finocchiaro, the Prime Minister, Mr. Romano Prodi issued a Directive intended for all government members, aimed at "promoting the empowerment of women, acknowledging and guaranteeing freedom of choice and social equality to men and women".
Another indication proving the changed orientations in the government's strategies is the law for public financing to political parties. This law (art.3) envisages promoting the active participation of women in politics so that every party is allotted a quota equal to at least 5% of electoral reimbursements received for initiatives oriented to such an objective.

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c. Actions initiated to promote women's participation in politics

Recently, policies of the Italian government have reflected a more specific attention to the issue of women's presences in decision-making contexts. As a matter of fact, in March 1997, according to a proposal of the Minister for Equal Opportunities, Mrs Anna Finocchiaro, the Prime Minister, Mr. Romano Prodi issued a Directive intended for all government members, aimed at "promoting the empowerment of women, acknowledging and guaranteeing freedom of choice and social equality to men and women".
Another indication proving the changed orientations in the government's strategies is the law for public financing to political parties. This law (art.3) envisages promoting the active participation of women in politics so that every party is allotted a quota equal to at least 5% of electoral reimbursements received for initiatives oriented to such an objective.

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