LECCE, ITALY - 10 DECEMBER 2020: Stefania Pala (32), an unemployed, poses for a portrait in Lecce, Apulia, Italy, on December 10th 2020.
After working in a hotel on Lake Garda, Stefania Pala moved to London where she worked in a pizzeria and lived with her partner from 2015 to 2018. When her partner received a job offer with a permanent contract in Apulia, they moved back. "We could finally ask for a loan, get married and buy a house", she said. She has worked occasionally as a head waiter on short-term contracts during peak season in Apulia. Her last job was at a resort last summer, but has been unemployed ever since. During her last job interview for an available position as a paid intern (750 euros for 44 hours/week) in art supplies store, the potential employer asked her if she had children or if she had intention to have any. Uncertain how to respond, Stefania Pala laughed uncomfortably and replied she had two cats. She wasn't hired.
Unlike the 2008 financial crisis, the pandemic’s employment shock hit women harder than men across much of the Western world. The impact on women has been especially severe in Southern Italy, which already has Europe’s widest employment gender gap.
In Italy, 51 percent of women work compared with 68 percent of men, the seventh highest women’s unemployment rate in the world despite improvements in the last decade
The Global Gender Gap Report 2020 published by the World Economic Forum prior to the pandemic states that the advancement of women has regressed by nearly a century. Italy has performed worse than most European nations in this analysis, falling six spots to seventeenth position in Europe; only Greece, Malta and Cyprus fared more poorly.
The gender pay gap highlights the most critical issue. On average, non-university-educated men earn 6,000 euro more than women with a degree in Italy.
- ©2020 Gianni Cipriano
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