As local florists prepare their overpriced mimosa bouquets for the upcoming Festa della donna (International Women’s Day), a study has just emerged that ranks Florence high on the “Women Friendly Index”, a measurement of19 factors including economic stability, employment rates, safety, culture, and access to social services.
The index, released by the Monza e Brianza Chamber of Commerce, gave the city four out of five stars—placing it third in the country. First and second place went to two other central Italian cities, Pescara and Teramo. According to the study, women in these cities “have more fun” and live and work better.
These days, any discussion of women in Italy is timely given the recent protests over Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s, er, behavior of late. While I might differ from many of my contemporaries in not blaming Berlusca wholesale for every one of Italy’s maladies (and there are many), I would agree that he has brought the country to a new low in terms of international prestige and general adherence to social mores.
In a particularly cringe-worthy moment yesterday, Berlusconi dedicated a portion of a speech on public education to women, who he lauded as “better than us [men] in every way: better in school, at university and on the job.” He went on to say that women work “as well as and usually better than men because [they] know how to organize, manage, create and bring talent and determination to everything they do.”
While yesterday's words are no doubt better than other moments he's had while talking about women's abilities (e.g. encouraging U.S. businessmen to invest in Italy because it has "the most beautiful secretaries in the world"), it is actually this kind of vapid rhetoric and shameless pandering that leaves me infinitely colder than any details (real or imagined) about his private life.
I don’t know if Berlusconi’s mandate will last, but I do know that this year’s Festa della donna will likely be more than an excuse for flowers and a trip to the local male strip club (ew), especially in “women friendly” Florence.
|Women in Berlusconi's cabinet (even that sounds smutty now!)|