The Fort Worth Press - Italy's PM is a trailblazer, just don't call her feminist

AED 3.672501
AFN 71.631438
ALL 95.179683
AMD 395.104736
ANG 1.797381
AOA 837.498008
ARS 869.237794
AUD 1.554195
AWG 1.8
AZN 1.701434
BAM 1.836854
BBD 2.013648
BDT 109.668421
BGN 1.83251
BHD 0.376867
BIF 2857.437455
BND 1.359167
BOB 6.919837
BRL 5.234097
BSD 0.997254
BTN 83.437693
BWP 13.783827
BYN 3.26325
BYR 19600
BZD 2.010274
CAD 1.377395
CDF 2790.000542
CHF 0.910901
CLF 0.035477
CLP 978.93054
CNY 7.238294
CNH 7.24577
COP 3892.15
CRC 499.695365
CUP 26.5
CVE 103.559035
CZK 23.680222
DJF 177.591556
DKK 6.99551
DOP 58.949243
DZD 134.767364
EGP 48.504975
ERN 15
ETB 56.74331
EUR 0.93758
FJD 2.2733
FKP 0.802762
GBP 0.80325
GEL 2.660158
GGP 0.802762
GHS 13.439585
GIP 0.802762
GMD 67.95006
GNF 8573.06225
GTQ 7.771668
GYD 209.210483
HKD 7.83024
HNL 24.710119
HRK 7.08016
HTG 132.186009
HUF 368.270061
IDR 16264
ILS 3.788405
IMP 0.802762
INR 83.59605
IQD 1306.393708
IRR 42062.502706
ISK 140.919985
JEP 0.802762
JMD 155.057507
JOD 0.708704
JPY 154.397497
KES 132.506959
KGS 89.005103
KHR 4033.444879
KMF 463.599363
KPW 900.00035
KRW 1381.515005
KWD 0.30814
KYD 0.83106
KZT 447.831426
LAK 21217.063637
LBP 89307.005868
LKR 301.172633
LRD 193.302457
LSL 19.097503
LTL 2.95274
LVL 0.60489
LYD 4.866755
MAD 10.142332
MDL 17.821188
MGA 4375.579989
MKD 57.733301
MMK 2094.241819
MNT 3450.000346
MOP 8.059525
MRU 39.674972
MUR 46.545857
MVR 15.450203
MWK 1728.672797
MXN 16.97042
MYR 4.7903
MZN 63.503078
NAD 19.020154
NGN 1140.639968
NIO 36.706879
NOK 11.013005
NPR 133.496743
NZD 1.69278
OMR 0.384948
PAB 0.999202
PEN 3.759609
PGK 3.78625
PHP 57.307502
PKR 277.616959
PLN 4.067412
PYG 7380.814008
QAR 3.640498
RON 4.664899
RSD 109.811985
RUB 94.149546
RWF 1285.490659
SAR 3.751136
SBD 8.475185
SCR 13.514704
SDG 585.999461
SEK 10.946365
SGD 1.361005
SHP 1.26345
SLE 22.847303
SLL 20969.503664
SOS 571.501412
SRD 34.7755
STD 20697.981008
SVC 8.725851
SYP 2512.53037
SZL 18.978656
THB 36.795966
TJS 10.916399
TMT 3.505
TND 3.162999
TOP 2.39395
TRY 32.484495
TTD 6.771463
TWD 32.353016
TZS 2577.917756
UAH 39.433649
UGX 3812.144578
UYU 38.872792
UZS 12680.000115
VEF 3622552.534434
VES 36.243564
VND 25405
VUV 118.722038
WST 2.803608
XAF 614.865536
XAG 0.035449
XAU 0.000422
XCD 2.70255
XDR 0.757759
XOF 614.865536
XPF 111.575035
YER 250.35005
ZAR 19.01195
ZMK 9001.19651
ZMW 25.206689
ZWL 321.999592
  • SLAC




  • CMSD




  • BCC




  • SCS




  • NGG




  • GSK




  • CMSC




  • BTI




  • AZN




  • RIO




  • BP




  • JRI








  • BCE








  • VOD




  • RELX




Italy's PM is a trailblazer, just don't call her feminist
Italy's PM is a trailblazer, just don't call her feminist / Photo: © AFP

Italy's PM is a trailblazer, just don't call her feminist

In her rapid rise through Italian politics, Giorgia Meloni has repeatedly shattered the glass ceiling and has now become the first woman premier in the still staunchly patriarchal country.

Text size:

But many women do not consider the 45-year-old an ally, pointing to her advocacy of traditional family values, including her opposition to abortion, and what they see as her failure to challenge the social status quo.

"All things considered it's a positive thing that for the first time it's a woman" leading the government, said Giorgia Serughetti, a professor of political philosophy at the University of Milano-Bicocca who focuses on gender and politics.

"But from there to say this is a step forward for women is another thing," she told AFP.

Meloni's post-fascist Brothers of Italy party won the largest share of votes among women in September elections, in which she played heavily on her own personal brand.

"I am Giorgia, I am a woman, I am a mother, I am Italian, I am Christian," Meloni said at a 2019 rally. The word wife did not feature, as she is not married to her partner, the father of her young daughter.

Serughetti argues this mantra was not a call for women's rights but a "declaration of hostility towards enemies", whether LGBTQ activists, feminists, defenders of mass immigration or others on the political left against whom she often rails.

Meloni has "never played the women's card" in a Catholic-majority country where there is "widespread hostility to feminism", the expert said.

Despite rising to the government's top job, Meloni is not seen as a challenge to "the patriarchy", said Flaminia Sacca, a political sociologist at Rome's Sapienza University.

Meloni is a working mother in a country where only about half of working-age women are employed.

But "she doesn't in any way challenge traditional values, traditional culture and the Catholic culture", said Sacca. "She's more acceptable, she's not a threat."

- No quotas -

Meloni has broken several barriers in her political career.

In 2008, she became the country's youngest minister, aged just 31, when she was given the youth portfolio by then-premier Silvio Berlusconi -- now one of her coalition allies.

A decade ago, she co-founded Brothers of Italy, becoming the first woman to lead a major Italian political party.

As premier, she joins a very small group of women who have reached a position of political power.

Italy named its first female head of the lower house of parliament in 1979, but it took another four decades for a woman to hold the second most powerful constitutional role, president of the Senate.

In her 2021 autobiography, Meloni argued for more women in decision-making roles that would "lift the moral level and productive effectiveness of our leadership".

But she said she won't rely on gender quotas, mandatory today on corporate boards, saying she "detests" them.

"I am a woman, but I confess that in all my history in politics I have never felt really discriminated against," she wrote in her book.

Her new government includes six women among 24 cabinet posts, while her coalition -- which also includes Matteo Salvini's far-right League -- has fewer women lawmakers than any other bloc in parliament.

Some 30 percent of their MPs and senators are women, compared to 46 percent of the centrist bloc and 45 percent of the populist Five Star Movement, according to Sacca.

However, they are almost level with the 31 percent of the centre-left Democratic Party, which actively promotes gender parity and women's rights.

- Focus on mothers -

"Giorgia Meloni is to feminism like a fish on a bicycle: harried, precarious and out of place," wrote prominent Italian-born philosopher and feminist theorist Rosi Braidotti in La Repubblica newspaper in August.

Meloni's discourse on women is nearly exclusively about mothers, with policies supporting birth rates and families, like providing free nursery school, protecting young mothers in the workplace or lowering taxes on baby products.

The focus on maternity is a carryover from Fascism that still resonates among right-wing voters, and is particularly reassuring in times of economic hardship, academics Sacca and Serughetti agreed.

"She's not speaking of empowerment and careers, she speaks of mothers and their right to keep their job," said Sacca.

Small protests, usually involving young people, have been held across Italy, focused on Meloni's opposition to abortion.

Meloni, who is also against same-sex adoptions and surrogacy, says she has no plans to touch Italy's 1978 abortion law, but rather offer more choices to women who feel they have no other option than to abort.

Emma Bonino, a veteran rights activist who leads the +Europe party, fears Meloni will instead "push for the law to be ignored", exacerbating existing difficulties in finding gynaecologists willing to perform terminations.

Despite the criticism, Meloni's strength has been in presenting herself consistently as a leader in control, said Sacca.

"She managed not to frighten an electorate that was not necessarily right wing before her," she said.