Project BANDIAR SWOT-analysis prepared by Province of Reggio Emilia
- This SWOT report is realised with the help of the Councillors for Equal Opportunities of the Province of Reggio Emilia, whose aim is to intervene in equal opportunities matters linked to work and politics. This collaboration led to an analysis of the increased participation of women in political life and the opportunities they have to take part in it. This report also tries to present Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats of the BANDIAR project and its results will be:
- A clear vision for the existing situation and steps, which are needed to be taken in the future;
- Ensure high quality of the implementation of the project;
- Guaranteed achievement of the aims set in the project;
- Adequate evaluation process during the project activities;
The Province of Reggio Emilia organises initiatives involving female candidates and representatives of parties whenever there are elections. The aim of these meetings is to guarantee a high level of transparency and equality both for the composition of lists and the following election of women in the different institutional levels, in compliance with article 51 of the Italian Constitution (i.e. Every citizen, man or woman, can access to public and elective offices within the same conditions of equality. In order to do so, the Italian Republic promotes equal opportunities between men and women through specific actions).
Those initiatives, carried out by the Province’s Council for Equal Opportunities and its Councillors, also include initiatives of Municipalities of the Province, especially those led by a female Mayor, which are promoted through press conferences, as well as being included in the provincial calendar of social, cultural and political events.
On the one hand the Province, together with a number of Municipalities of its territory, took part in different initiatives enhancing talents of different cultural and social sectors. One of these was ”Women and science – Gender Differences within university sector”, with the participation of female Heads of Faculty. There are also many different initiatives that address to secondary schools, such as the introduction of a prize related to gender difference, where four schools were rewarded for having realised a multimedia video on this issue.
On the other hand, many initiatives address to immigrant women, leading to the publication of a book analysing the female immigration in Reggio Emilia from a qualitative point of view. Another research was done in collaboration with University of Reggio Emilia and Modena and it was about flexible and temporary work, especially from women’s point of view. A further research was about a female interpretation of provision of work. All these works were published by Carocci and presented at national and provincial levels.
All these initiatives have been possible thanks to the ministerial and council funds that the Councillors for Equal Opportunities made available for the Province, with which it was possible to create a Gender Budget too.
Moreover, a careful analysis of the Municipalities and the Province have been published, highlighting the resources available for Equal opportunities and Gender Budget, as well as their personnel policy.
The Province of Reggio Emilia has been publishing for years a detailed analysis focused on the positions occupied by women working in local businesses with more than 100 employees. This analysis highlights clearly the disparity between women and men referring to the highest positions, even in those businesses where female employees are the majority (Data published on the Province of Reggio Emilia website).
For example, according to the above mentioned research, there are more female managers in the health sector (Hospitals, National Health Service, Retirement homes, etc) compared to the private sector, but this is not enough as far as female consultants are concerned.
As far as women’s participation in political life is concerned, we often think about it as a synonym of ”war”, ”aggressiveness” and ”power”, but this is not right, because these behaviours imply a perception of politics distant from people’s life. On the contrary, if we think about politics as a ”service” and an ”element of growth and development of communities”, then it has a positive and constructive meaning. It is important to bridge the gap that women see between the ”idea” of politics and its applications in the daily life. Participation in political life can also be understood as something that can help improve politics itself.
Another problem is the balancing of public life and private life, especially because this women’s effort is scarcely defended by specific policies of family support and balancing of times. This is the reason why it is important to find a point of balance between the quantity of time and energy that can be dedicated to family life, work and active participation in political life.
Equality can be achieved though a process of equalization to be meant as an educational, familiar, social and cultural path. It has to:
- help evolve female roles within decisional and working sector,
- promote a more equal division of the ”care work” within the family, since the 70% burdens on women, influencing their personal and working life too,
- diffuse different mass media images from those related to most common stereotypes.
Legislatively speaking, it would be very important to create laws and electoral systems to regulate the representative system. First of all, it is important to change male ”modalities” of political management activities and find female management ”modalities”, with meetings focused more on specific and different decisions from the point of view of time organisation. Then, it is necessary to increase the number of working women and guarantee them the conditions for a stable job.
As far as policies of public interventions are concerned, we tried to have a gender approach (i.e. mainstreaming), a trend that is useful since it gives a general vision, rather than a sectoral, narrow one, to public decision makers. For example, a problem that women have is balancing work and pregnancy and, at the beginning, it was considered from a female point of view only providing social protection systems, while today the approach is wider and this issue in included within new models of welfare. These can provide more services and less assistance to families, increasing the quality of life not only for women, but also for every citizen.
Therefore, it seems that the proper way of achieving equality between men and women is an integration of central policies with regional ones. This can be done using efficient instruments of governance only, i.e. all those instruments that can help create shared policies at different levels of tasks and interest of the involved subjects.
The main direct obstacles are legal and juridical ones: laws are not enough, since it is necessary a deep cultural change that stimulates a major presence of women where participation takes place.
Other obstacles for women’s participation in political life, especially for female immigrants, are administrative ones and, consequently, they cannot have legal and civic acknowledgements.
Then, there are also cultural obstacles related to the level of education of women. Current data referring to education say that school and university participation of women is major and that their results are better than men’s ones. Another example can be during the period of pregnancy, where there is a strong gender diversity, but despite of biological differences, a very clear ”cultural” division is highlighted by parents’ roles.
Finally, the indirect obstacle is that women usually are not victims of obstacles directly linked to gender equality, but they are victims of discriminations related to the lack of equal opportunities.