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The absence of women from Italy’s COVID-19 pandemic response

Photo of women walking in Piazza Duomo, Milano, Italy by Simone Viani on Unsplash

Dr Cinzia Priola, Senior Lecturer in Organisational Studies in the OU Business School and Dr Lara Pecis, Lecturer in Organisation Studies in Lancaster University Management School, have written a paper for Gender in Management. An International Journal. Their publication, 'Missing voices: The absence of women from Italy’s COVID-19 pandemic response', explores the role of Italian women in society and at work during the pandemic. Specifically, it analyses Italian women’s positioning in the work context and in the leadership coordinating the national response to the pandemic.

Inspired by feminist thinking addressing recent debates on women’s livelihoods at the time of COVID-19, the article focuses on Italy’s gendered response to the pandemic and its exclusion of women from decision-making roles in the management of the pandemic and the subsequent post-pandemic socio-economic recovery. Drawing on recent studies and media contributions it provides a thought-provoking analysis embedded in the country’s history and culture.

Despite their high involvement in the daily management of the pandemic, as key workers and family carers, Italian women’s voices have remained unheard and concealed, even in face of movements towards their recognition (#DateciVoce). The authors trace this lack of inclusion in the sedimented gender inequalities characteristic of the Italian socio-political-economic context, combined with the effects of COVID-19 and suggest that the country needs a long overdue and radical shift towards the centring of women and their contributions in work and society.

Download the paper via Open Research Online (ORO