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PM Draghi’s address at the ‘Towards a national strategy for gender equality’ conference

Monday, 8 March 2021

President of the Council of Ministers Mario Draghi’s video message to the ‘Towards a national strategy for gender equality’ conference, promoted by Minister for Equal Opportunities and Family Elena Bonetti.

[The following video is available in Italian only]

In these days, we are all facing another worsening of the health emergency. Everyone must do their part to contain the spread of the virus, especially the Government. In actual fact, the Government must strive to do even more every day.

We have still not beaten the pandemic, but we can see a way out in the not so distant future, thanks to the ramp up of the vaccination campaign. I would like to take this opportunity to give you all a message of real confidence, also in ourselves.

I would once again like to thank Italian citizens for their discipline and endless patience, especially those who are also suffering the economic consequences of the pandemic. I thank the students, families and teachers who are bearing the burden of school closures. I thank the healthcare professionals, police forces, armed forces, Civil Protection service and all the frontline workers for their tireless efforts. These are examples of civic and professional responsibility, of Italian citizens playing an active part and obliging the Government to step up all its efforts. We are only at the beginning.

Our task – and I am referring to all institutional levels – is to use all resources available to safeguard lives and allow us to get back to normality as soon as possible. Every life counts. We must make use of every second, try everything, and make well-thought-out yet rapid decisions. I do not want to make any promises that cannot be fulfilled. My concerns are the same as your concerns. I am constantly focused on ensuring the Government takes efficient and effective action to protect health, support those in difficulty, encourage economic recovery and speed up reforms.

On 10 March last year, Italy went into lockdown, turning into one large ‘red zone’ for the very first time. One Italian out of twenty has become infected with the virus according to official data which, as we know, underestimate the spread of the contagion.

We could never have imagined that, a year on, we would once again be facing a similar emergency and that the official number of victims would have reached the awful total of one hundred thousand deaths. Our dutiful commitment is a sign of respect for the memory of all those who have lost their lives.

The vaccination campaign will be significantly ramped up over the next few days and will prioritise the most vulnerable people and those most at risk. By waiting our turn, we are also protecting the health of the weaker members of our society. 

This is not the time for divisions or for reaffirming our own identities. It is the time to provide solutions for all those suffering the consequences of the economic crisis, who may potentially lose their jobs, and to fight inequality. In just one year, the number of Italians living in absolute poverty has increased by over a million, while other inequalities have also worsened, first and foremost the gender gap.

This is also why, today, on International Women’s Day, I want my message to accompany the presentation of Italy’s national gender equality strategy, produced by Minister Elena Bonetti, representing the conclusion of a project that has involved a number of experts, to whom I offer my heartfelt thanks.

Considering the example set by so many exceptional Italian women in all fields, including normal family life, we really have a lot to do if we wish to align gender equality in Italy with European averages, in terms of both level and quality.

Mobilising women’s energy, moving beyond merely a symbolic recognition of their role and talent, is essential for building the future of our nation.
Targeted actions and far-reaching reforms are needed if women are to be fully involved in Italy’s economic, social and institutional life. However, we must first make changes to ourselves within our daily family lives.

Italy’s central government and local authorities must support families, especially the youngest families, also after this emergency is over. To do this, we must use a number of tools and, among others, I am referring to: parental leave; a higher number of nursery school places, in relation to which Italy currently falls below EU targets; and, a much fairer distribution of those nursery school places throughout the country, compared with what we are seeing today. All of these are objectives of this Government.

I shall not repeat the touching words spoken today by the President of the Italian Republic on the female condition. You know all too well how painful this is. I fully agree with the proposal put forward by the parliamentary committee of inquiry regarding femicide and all forms of gender-related violence. The victims of femicides, of which there are too many, as well as a reaction caused by the pandemic, appear to be creating a new awareness; the NextGenerationEU programme provides an extraordinary opportunity to transform this awareness into a reality through the actions of the Italian Government, my Government. One of the criteria that will be used to assess projects contained in the National Recovery and Resilience Plan is the extent to which they contribute to gender equality.

It is with this spirit of confidence in ours and your future, and with this Government’s commitment to winning your trust, that I would like to wish you a happy International Women’s Day. 

[Courtesy translation]