Statement delivered by the Deputy Minister for Economic Development, Hon. Teresa Bellanova, at the General Debate of the Sixty-second Session of the Commission on the Status of Women —
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Italy is aligned with the speech delivered by Bulgaria, currently holding the Presidency of the European Union.
The Italian Government, which I have the honor of representing today in such a prestigious venue, has acted so far based on the firm belief that the empowerment and the improvement of the social, economic, and political condition of all women, including rural women and girls, is fundamental for the creation of transparent and responsible Governments and administrations, and for sustainable development in all areas of life.
The disparity between men and women, still apparent today, prevents women from leading lives up to their expectations, and manifests itself at different levels in society, from the more personal one to the public one.
Therefore, I firmly believe that strengthening policies and investments in favor of women and girls, including in rural areas, is not only fair, but also smart and necessary for inclusive economic and social growth. Our commitment to the implementation of Agenda 2030 for sustainable development, in line with Beijing Declaration and Platform of Action, as well as the resources devoted to sustainable development goal 5, prove as much.
I am particularly proud to mention to you all in this Assembly that Italy has decided a long time ago to attach particular importance to the role of women in our society, and to undertake concrete action in order to safeguard and promote the progress of women’s rights, adopting effective policies for women’s empowerment.
Specifically, Italy is actively committed, both at diplomatic – negotiation level and at development cooperation level, to supporting women’s human rights. Indeed, we support international campaigns for the eradication of female genital mutilation and of early and forced marriage, promoting and actively participating in the work of the United Nations on these issues.
Based on the solid progress accomplished by my Country, I am also glad to share, as part of this prestigious general debate, the recent national policies and concrete measures we have adopted to guarantee true equality between men and women in terms of labor market access and entrepreneurial tools, and to create a society free from discriminations and gender stereotypes, all too often responsible for the perpetuation of violent behaviors both at work and at home.
The Italian Government has invested conspicuous resources in order to facilitate the access of women to the labor market. Indeed, for the first time in our country, women’s employment rate has almost reached 50%. It is an encouraging figure, which constitutes a record, the highest since 1977.
We have introduced measures to incentivize the hiring of unemployed women, by providing tax cuts for employers in the private sector. Such measures where also extended to other areas, to remedy the issue of under-representation of women in certain geographic contexts and industries, such as agriculture, communication and information, transports, and the manufacturing and energy industry.
Moreover, the low presence of women in terms of digital skills may further hinder the development of the economy and society. The demand for digital skills is only likely to increase, transforming jobs and entire industries.
To this end, Italy is committed to promoting concrete actions to increase the participation of women and girls to science and new technologies, including media and communications, recognizing that such scientific and technological skills are a fundamental prerequisite for access to many better-paying jobs in today’s economy.
Furthermore, in order to promote women’s entrepreneurship, we have created a “guarantee fund” which makes access to credit easier for the start-up stage for women-run business, also in the agricultural sector.
In spite of the significant progress accomplished over the past few decades, women and girls continue to be victims of physical and psychological violence, and exploitation, also in rural areas.
Over the past few years, Italy has reacted to this in a firm and determined way, including by developing a new National Strategic Plan against male violence against women. Focusing on prevention, protection and prosecution, the plan envisages, among other things, measures aimed at increasing mass media awareness of the role of gender stereotypes and sexism, with a specific focus on migrant women victims of violence.
Investing in women, in their potential, in their unique and substantial contribution to the growth of a country is a first step towards building and sustaining a better world for all, women and men alike.
Thank you for your attention.