Gender Inequality in Italy and Sweden
24 November 2014
The Roots of Gender Inequality:
What Accounts For the Differing Gender Inequalities in Sweden and Italy?
On September 20th of this year, Emma Watson gave a powerful speech at the United Nations headquarters in New York to address the gender inequalities endured by women worldwide. Although most nations have possessed an increasing focus on gender equality in the past century, gender stereotypes and sexist customs continue to pervade the modern world. Despite initiatives taken to combat gender inequality, many developed European countries, notably Italy, have failed to give women equal rights. With a score of just 40.9 on the Gender Equality Index, it is clear that Italy has
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In contrast to Sweden, Italy’s strong adherence to the traditional family model and lack of a central infrastructure capable of promoting gender equality has inhibited women’s fight for equal rights. First off, the Italian government has failed to implement effective policies aimed at balancing work and family for women, such as public childcare services, which in turn has made it extremely difficult for women to reenter the workforce after giving birth. With little help from care services and parental leave policies, this reality has further hindered women’s career advancement in Italy and has ultimately pushed many women out of the labour market. This lack of policies has partly stemmed from Italy’s adherence to the “Southern-European model of low welfare services and high dependency on the family”, which has subsequently reduced female participation in the formal workforce to disproportionally low rates (Dolson). Beyond simply participation in the formal labour market, it is clear that women in Italy are forced to work longer unpaid hours due to their domestic, household responsibilities as well as the types of jobs they often work in. First off, a 2010 OECD study found that on average, women do thirty-six hours of unpaid household chores, whereas men only do fourteen. Furthermore, the majority of Italian women work in less stable jobs in the service sector of the economy, such as retail and hospitality, which has also forced them to work longer unpaid hours.