18/02/2014 - EIGE - Francesca Brezzi abstract eng

Francesca Brezzi

February 18, 2014

First of all I want to thank Director Virginjia Langbakk with authentic and not merely formal thanks for this meeting that I feel as recognition of the growth on Gender Equality occurred recently at University and in particular at Roma Tre, but this leads me to point out how Europe and in particular EIGE have played a driving role in promoting this progress. We thank you, and we are glad to reinforce the synergies between our institutions (synergies confirmed in June by the visit to Vilnius at EIGE headquarters of the delegation of students and teachers of the Women, Politics and Institutions course to better and closer know your fruitful activity. (And I do not want to mention my honor to have been chosen, the only Italian, among Women Inspiring Europe in EIGE first Calendar in 2011).

The concept of Gender Equality is recognized by the EU as one of the fundamental principle of democracy and of the dignity of human being since its inception.

The EU and the EIGE always reaffirm the necessity of mainstreaming a gender approach in national policies.

I'm not here to show a list of activities that have been carried out by Roma Tre University, but to reflect on some “Italian” traits of the difficult, unsettled, fragile relation between equal opportunities policies, WS/GS and Academies and how Universities are coping with your guide lines and your aims.

  1. I will first address the evolution of the concept of Equal Opportunities, that nowadays is not only limited to inequalities based on gender, but includes diversities of culture, ethnicity, language and religion. This point has been understood and effectively encouraged by several activities by Roma Tre as well as by other Universities.
  2. Secondly,I'll explore the issue of the “imperfect citizenship” of female scholars in the Italian Academic context.  WS/GS are officially ignored in  Italian Universities curricula, notwithstanding the importance they have gained in Europe and in the US, where their scientific dignity is not questioned by anybody and where they have reached a clear definition of their theoretical foundations. In Italy, scholars and activists are proceeding on two directions, carrying on a critical deconstructions of traditions of knowledge that ignores the fundamental role of women and opening new spaces for women's creative potential, self representation and self determination.
  3.  Therefore, it is important that Universities accept  Gender perspective and Gender Studies as parts of their curricula. Universities are place in which not only the new necessities of a society are, to some extent, anticipated, but also a place in which societies and cultures can be deeply transformed. Transforming Universities means transforming societies.
  4. Schools and Universities are places where different genders and different generations can meet each other. The transmission of knowledge should recognize and respect differences, in theorizing social models and defining languages. We do believe that Roma Tre and GIO can continue to be places of dialogue between different genders and generations.

Finally, it is not redundant to remind that gender policies need to be developed in a cultural context that is capable to understand and accept them. It is important to organize activities of disseminations and sensibilizations to be effective in the cultural sphere. The synergy with EIGE can be very useful to this extent. Moreover, it is fundamental to acquire a “political” dimension inside Universities, i.e. to reflect on the planning and managment of equal opportunities programs and activities; to redefine plans of development for human resources according to principles such as valorization of differences, the trade-off between work and leisure, the transformation of traditional roles inside the family.

Our source of inspiration is the University depicted by Virginia Woolf's Three Guineas, in which books are not bounded by chains, a University that is not made by libraries, museums and Chapels, but a school that teaches how to live, how to develop the art of human relationships and understanding. This will be a new way of living the world.