Shaping fair cities


A reflection on what has been accomplished in Italy at national level for achieving SDG 5 - gender equality - after 5 years since the approval of the 2030 Agenda

The achievement of gender equality (SDG 5) is fundamental for the achievement of the other SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals), because of its interconnection with these goals. “The gender equality is not only a fundamental human right, but it is an essential condition for a prosperous world, sustainable and in peace. It is essential to battle the differences and inequalities in all fields and sectors [1].”
The women empowerment in Italy increased until 2015, but from 2016 it faced a trend inversion because of the rate of women with children employment dropped and because of the decrease of women presence in decision-making role.  
The Italian Constitution of 1948 [2] introduced equal rights and equal work pay for women and men, but after 72 years, it is clear that the gender pay gap, that is the wage difference between the gross hourly wages of men and women, is still high.
In Italy, the gender pay gap is around 5% [3], and it may seem positive data compared to the mean European gap which is around the 16,3%.

However, it is important to recognize that a lower percentage is not a sign of higher-level gender equality. In fact, in some European countries, the lower pay gap is connected with a lower participation of women in the labour market. Whereas, a wider pay gap is connected with a high number of women employed in part-time jobs.
To analyse SDG 5 progress towards the decrease of the gender gap after its 5 years approval of the Agenda 2030, it is necessary to consider another old-as-time fact regarding the conciliation between paid work outside of the home and unpaid work for family care. The family care work is essential for our society and our economy and it is mainly fulfilled by women.

Worldwide, 42% of women cannot work because they have to take care of their children, parents, relatives, and or disabled family members, while only 6% of men fulfil that role. Furthermore, women are forced to choose between part-time jobs and, or give up their jobs entirely because of the difficulties to reconcile work with family care.
The 2018 study of the National Institute of Statistic (Istat) states that in Italy 11% of women never had the opportunity of being employed because they were responsible for childcare, compared to their European counterpart which is around 3,7%. Furthermore, the data shows that in Italy almost one in two working mothers between the age of 18 and 64 with children under 15 (38,3%) was forced to modify work duties to meet family demands and responsibility. This percentage is three-times higher than men in the same position.

The Covid-19 health crisis sharpened the discrepancy of the gender gap and showed how long we still have to go before a solution can be reached. The lockdown period, the consequent closing of schools and the interruption of the care services forced many women workers to deal with a double workload: working from home, the so-called “smart working”, and the care of children and the house. Inevitably, the line between work and private life became blurred creating intense stress, burnout and possibly loss the paying job.

The lockdown did not only adversely affect work, but since its beginning, we found a considerable increase of violence against women and girls. From March to June 2020 Italy registered an increase of 119,6% [4] in phone calls to 1522, the anti-violence emergency number. This increase is double the data of the same period in 2019.
The pernicious problem of violence against women worldwide has increased and got exacerbated by the lockdown, when women were forced inside the home without a way to escape from their perpetrator.
One interesting proposal arrived from Italy, where an App called “You Pol [5]” was available. With this App it was possible to alert the police without any phone call and to guarantee the anonymity of potential witnesses.

In the wake of the recovery of the Country, people from different walks of life requested a guarantee for more equal presence of women in the decision-making processes of the political arena. One of these actions was the petition “#datecivoce” (give us voice), a defiant action against the establishment of the ad-hoc pandemic scientific-technical committee composed exclusively of men. Thanks to the thousands of signatures collected and the online mobilization of eighty-six associations, the task force “Ricostruzione” included four women within its ranks while the scientific-technical committee added three women.

If an equal role in governance is not obtained, gender equality will only be nothing more than a goal of the agenda without real substance.

[1] ISTAT, Rapporto SDGs 2020. Informazioni statistiche per l’Agenda 2030 in Italia, p. 99, 2020, Roma.
[2] Article 37, paragraph 2 of the Italian Constitution affirms that “The working women has the same rights and, with the same work, the same wages as the male worker”. This article permitted the approval of the legislation that states the formal equality between male and female workers: in particular, low n. 903/1977 affirms that “Any discrimination based on sex is prohibited with regard to access to work, regardless of the hiring methods and whatever the sector or branch of activity, at all levels of the professional hierarchy”.


[4] National Institute of Statistic, Tavole dei dati “Il numero verde 1522 durante la pandemia (periodo marzo-giugno 2020)”,


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last modified 2020-11-13T15:50:09+01:00
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