Talks, art and celebrations for International Women's Day
Italian theme calls for end to violence07 March, 19:17
International Women's Day has been celebrated throughout the world in various countries since the early 1900s after a declaration by the Socialist Party of America, the first National Woman's Day (NWD) was observed across the United States on 28 February, 1909. That same year 30,000 seamstresses from the New York's East Side, almost all of them women and many of them Italians or Jews, began a 13-week strike for better pay and conditions, fewer hours and a ban on non-union labour by marching together on the frozen streets of New York City. Their slogan - 'We'd rather starve quick than starve slow,' and relentless determination and resistance inspired leading German socialist Clara Zetkin to propose the Second International Conference of Socialist Women in Copenhagen in 1910 where the International Women's Day (IWD) was proclaimed.
IWD became an worldwide event to commemorate the New York strike and focus attention on the struggles of working class women.
It was officially recognized in Italy in 1922 and came into full force with the fall of Fascism. The Women's Union that was formed by women from the historic Communist Party, Socialist Party, the Partito d'Azione, the Christian Left and Democratic Labour party used the day as a megaphone for their equal-rights platform and later to petition for the right to divorce, contraception and abortion.
Veering from its emancipation and resistance-based origins, Women's Day in Italy today is celebrated with flowers and usually a girls-only, rambunctious night on the town.
But political and public figures also take the yearly occasion to comment on developments in women's rights and opportunities.
Since 2004, an increasing number of women have graduated from university medical faculties, said the Italian Medical Association ASSOMED, but still face 'systemic structural discrimination' in hospital wards and health organizations and are rarely found in the higher-paying positions.
In fact, Italy's national statistics agency Istat said in January that Italian women were particularly hard hit in the job market, with only 49.9% employed.
Italian European Parliament member Deborah Serracchiani said at a university conference on Women and the Labour Market that "a truly advanced development model that does not fully appreciate the role of women is inconceivable".
'As a rule, women's pay is simply lower than that of men's,' Welfare Minister Elsa Fornero said at a conference in 2012.
For 2013, Women's Day in Italy will focus on the elimination of violence against women. Throughout the day events, talks and workshops will meet under the banner 'Together...to Speak about Violence against Women' "Insieme...per parlare della violenza sulle donne).
The exteriors of the offices of state broadcaster Rai in Milan, Rome, Turin and Naples will be illuminated with pink lighting, commemorating the 124 women who were "ferociously killed" in 2012 at the hands of their husbands or ex-partners.