Italy lags behind the rest of Europe when it comes to gender equality in the workplace and in the labour market. A bill for women's boardroom quotas was recently greenlighted in March by the Italian Senate's Finance Committee, earning the praise of women across Italy.
The bill, which has bipartisan support, would force Italian companies, both publicly and privately owned, to have women executives form at least 20 percent of their boards as of next year and 30 percent by 2015. The measure now goes to vote in the Italian Senate and Chamber of Deputies.
‘It's a beautiful day. This achievement is the reward for a long battle,' said Lella Golfo, a politician with the centre-right People of Freedom party, adding, ‘Not only women, but the whole country has achieved a historic goal that finally brings us in line with the modern European democracies. We can be proud.'
The Manageritalia association released a survey last October revealing that less than 12 percent of management positions in Italy are occupied by women, putting Italy at the bottom of the European Union rankings. According to the European Union's statistics bureau Eurostat, the employment rate for Italian women between the ages of 25 and 54 is 63.9 percent, compared to an 81.8 percent rate in Germany and a 78.7 percent rate in France. According to Eurostat, only Malta has a lower female employment rate than Italy at 56.6 percent.
In politics and government, Italy is in 54th place in terms of females in parliament in a ranking of 188 countries; it is in 24th place in a ranking of the European Union's 27-member bloc for female presence in the European parliament.
In the World Economic Forum's 2010 Report on Gender Equality, Italy placed 74th, after Malawi and Ghana.