With Silvio Berlusconi’s resignation as Italian prime minster one year ago, millions of Italian women were hopeful that the nation would see a social paradigm shift. While the country expressed widespread relief and even celebratory satisfaction at his resignation, change has come sluggishly despite the anticipation.
Circumstances even suggest that women have fared less favorably since Italy’s newest prime minister, Mario Monti, took office. According to the World Economic Gender Gap Report, Italian women have slipped from 74th to 80th on the overall scale which ranks 135 countries on factors including workforce equality, wage parity, health, and education. On the employment and economic opportunity scales, Italian women ranked 101st and 65th for educational attainment. Monti has been focusing his attention and policy reforms on the nation’s economy. Many women feel that gender equality has been entirely ignored and forgotten. The Global Gender Gap Report 2012. Italian women retain only a minority of government positions, this true under Berlusconi too. However, Monti has been credited for his appointments as he continues to fill seats with intelligent and qualified women.
Despite the inertia that women experience both socially and in the work environment, women have seen transformations in their media perception. Since the appointment of Anna Maria Tarantola as head of the RAI television network, much of the ordinary broadcasting was replaced with innovative programming. Officials have openly discussed Italian television’s flaws, its “over-sexualization” of women, its lack of educational objectives. Elsa Fornero, now leading the equal opportunity and general equality portfolio under Monti, is anxiously awaiting these much-needed improvements.
Documentarian Lorella Zanardo worries that since Berlusconi still controls much of the media, Italian women will have to patiently await the arrival of these improvements. Berlusconi owns three of the largest commercial television stations in Italy. While his executive control over the media has been widely criticized, the end to his empire is hardly approaching. It seems that Italy’s progress will be stalled so long as Berlusconi remains in the picture, even with his abdication from the throne.