Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is a great pleasure for me to be here today to present the position of the Italian Government on such a sensitive issue as the empowerment of women and its link to sustainable development.
When we adopted the 2030 Agenda for sustainable development, we pledged to leave no one behind. However, despite considerable progress, much remains to be done.
Therefore, Italy decided to devote new resources, amounting to up to fifty million Euros in the next two years, for maintaining gender equality and the full enjoyment of human rights by women and girls at the heart of our development cooperation programs in partner countries.
The promotion of inclusive and sustainable development necessarily involves the recognition of the importance of the role played by women in all societies.
Although over the last decades the increase in women’s participation in education, labor market and politics has considerably reduced the already existing gender gap, significant gender differences are still visible in the employment rates, in pay and pensions, as well as in the participation of women in top-level positions.
Great is the progress made by Italy over the last years in increasing women’s participation in decision making and promoting their self-employment.
Firstly, following the entry into force of a legislation which introduced, in 2011, the obligation for companies to keep a balanced representation of genders in the Boards of Directors and Boards of Statutory Auditors, the percentage of women in top economic decision making in Italy has significantly increased to 27.4% in the listed companies, against 6% before the introduction of the law.
Secondly, with a view to supporting women’s entrepreneurship, self-employment and access to credit, since 2013 the Italian Government has started a public guarantee mechanism covering the financial operations aimed at carrying out activities implemented by female companies.
About fifteen thousand female companies have benefited from the guarantee, whereas fifty-five are the Italian banks that have committed to supporting women’s companies, namely 37% of the national banking sector.
Totally, 1.5 billion Euros have been allocated by the national banking system for enterprises with prevailingly female participation and self-employed women.
Moreover, in order to achieve long-lasting results, the role of women in sustainable development should be enhanced especially through the cultural and structural change of work organization.
This is indeed the new challenge that lies ahead of all our Governments and this is the road taken by the Italian Government, which is currently experimenting, both in the private and public sectors, flexible forms of working (smart and co-working) for both women and men that do not penalize women’s careers, facilitate their access to the labour market and solve the problem of reconciling work and family life.
Only by making the work organization smarter and ensuring that performance and results count more than physical presence at the workplace, the full potential of women will be untapped and a growing number of women will be able to enter the labor market without giving up their family.
We are strongly convinced that in a time in which the world is searching for sustainability, growth and equality, women, with their economic potential, can help find them.