Stefania Prestigiacomo
Stefania Prestigiacomo

Political Development

Party Affiliation

Profession/ Current priorities

Political Aims/ Priorities/ Assessments




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[ European Commission, DG V ]

© Jan 2001

European Database: Women in Decision-Making

Stefania Prestigiacomo

Political Development

What made you decide to take part in politics?
I ascertained that Italian society needed a fundamental change, particularly in my Region, Sicily.

Do you or did you have a model of inspiration?
I admire many of the women involved in politics in Italy and abroad. I appreciate Bonino's passion and appreciated Nilde Jotti's sense of moderation and dignity. I think Margaret Thatcher's determination and strength were extraordinary for a politician and in her political career.

Is there a commitment tradition in politics in your family?
No, my father is a businessman. He never worked in that field.

Were you ever involved in political activities independently from the parties? If yes, what role were you playing and in what institution did you start your political career? What made you decide to move from a non-party activity to that within a political party?
My first political commitment was that in favour of the referendum for the majority-system. I was at the time the president of Confindustria's (Italian National Federation of Industries) young entrepreneurs. It was my first political task. On that occasion, a mobilisation campaign outside the political parties, I realised I was ready and willing to involve myself more deeply and for a long time in politics. The choice of participating in politics within Forza Italia (Italian centre-right wing party) was determined by the desire to keep on fighting for the issues that had already risen during the referendum campaign: change and socio-political renovation of the Italian society.

Were there moments of tension and turning points in your political career and why?
After the victory in the '94 elections, the fall of the Berlusconi government was a difficult time. The pathway to change we thought we gave birth to was questioned. Later on, political experience taught me the constancy and confidence of working for a more difficult and complex target than what I thought at the beginning of my political career.

Were there turning points in your personal life bringing consequences to your political career?
Surely, the most delicate and growing phase was that of starting to work and facing the problems linked to that beginning.

How did your priorities change during your political career?
My fundamental targets never changed. I changed my approach to problems and increased my awareness that in Italy forces opposing the Country's renovation are strong and deep-rooted and that to overcome them, a stronger, more patient and longer commitment is needed.

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Party Affiliation

What made you join a party?
I joined Forza Italia because of my desire to improve the situation in Sicily and to contribute to the Country's renovation through work.

What was your role within the party at the beginning; after how long since your joining have you covered this role; how did you get to apply for such a role?
I was called to be part of the group that gave birth to Forza Italia in my town, Siracusa. After a few months, during the political elections, I was asked to be a candidate on the list for proportional representation in my town district. I think the national executives of Forza Italia were impressed by my enthusiasm. My will to work showed during the first activity phase of the movement.

Do you have mentors within your party?
No.

Have you ever passed to another party?
No, and I would not work in politics outside Forza Italia.

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Profession/ Current priorities

How is your profession related to your political activity?
My work within the company made me aware of the very serious economic underdevelopment and unemployment problems in Southern Italy. These issues were and are the heart of my political commitment.

What is your educational background?
After my graduation from high-school (foreign languages specialisation), I started working in the family business. I think experience in the field is still one of the best training schools.

What were your tasks?
I worked in the field of economic development and auditing.

Are you exploiting your professional experience in your political career?
There are no direct connections, but I am having experiences and forming relations that could be useful when I go back to my job.

In which contexts could you utilise your competencies?
In those of economic development and in issues in favour of the South. I am, naturally, also interested in causes for greater safeguards and responsibilities for women both in politics and in society.

What are your political priorities?
Working within the Opposition to the government for a constant and well-documented way to lay the foundations of my coalition's victory at the next political elections.

Which are your main action fields?
I mostly work for labour issues. The objective, particularly for the South of Italy, has to be that of creating new jobs and renovating what exists. This task involve removing rigidities immobilising Italy's employment system that favours situations of wrong privileges and limits the access of weaker categories (youngsters and women in the first place) to the labour world.

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Political Aims/ Priorities/ Assessments

What aims would you like to attain through your political action?
I would like to help create conditions for a freer and more modern Italy and to lay the foundations to overcome the economic and social gap between the Northern and Southern Regions.

How and why have your aims changed during your political career?
My aims have not changed, but I am 33 years old and been working in politics for 6 years. This is too short a time to talk of political career and to modify my priorities from the time I decided to join Forza Italia.

In your opinion, did the equal opportunities strategies have consequences in your Country on the promotion of greater responsibilities and decision-making positions for women. Did you take advantage from these strategies?
In Italy, there is a formal access to equality in executive roles, and in politics. Between men and women and in some sectors, this equality is about to become substantial. In politics, we are not close to a real equality. Women are still a minority in Parliamentary Houses and the mechanism of quota of representation - included in the electoral law on occasion of the 94 elections, and of which I took advantage in my first Parliamentary election - was declared unconstitutional, and consequently abolished. I think, in general, quota is not a valid and equal tool. It could be useful (to rectify a manifest injustice of the political system) in a temporary phase to overcome a situation of serious representation disproportion between men and women.

What do you think of these strategies?
All measures aiming at reducing, in politics, but mainly in society, the differences in opportunities offered to women and men are in general sharable. The problem lies in their practical enforcement, in their power to really modify a country's attitude and culture. A law is not sufficient to obtain these changes. On the contrary, you often end up, by excessive protection measures, with the opposite result. For example, if women's labour is crushed by taxation, as a consequence of sharable protection measures, we might discourage hiring women.

Do you notice any direct or indirect discrimination in creating "conventional" policies?
I would not say direct discriminations. Rather often, it exists in men politicians as some form of arrogance and disagreeable irony.

What is it that discourages women to engage in politics?
The selection system of politicians is still basically masculine. Rituals and working hours are often incompatible with a woman who wants to both engage in politics and be a mother. However, often an unbearable dilettantism in some women does not facilitate women's wider and more active participation to politics.

What are the main barriers women have to overcome in trying to access relevant positions in politics?
The main difficulty is that of obtaining visibility and candidatures that are not mere image.

What obstacles had you to overcome in your political career?
I was very lucky to obtain a candidature in an important election when I was 27. However, I think I deserved that luck, later on, through an intense 6-year long engagement.

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