Challenging Labour Law in the 21st Century
Edited by Nicole Busby and Grace James
Chapter 6: Parental Leave Rights in Italy: Reconciling Gender Ideologies with the Demands of Europeanization
Roberta Guerrina INTRODUCTION Italy provides an interesting case study for the analysis of reconciliation policies in Europe. One of the ﬁrst European states to ratify an extensive regulatory framework for the protection of working mothers and pregnant workers, it also has one of the worst track records when it comes to promoting equality of opportunities and women’s access to employment. The level and depth of formal and informal discrimination against women has been widely documented, highlighting the pervasive nature of gender inequalities in the country. Berlusconi’s leadership style and the contentious nature of his appointments to key government positions, such as former glamour model Maria Cafagna as Equal Opportunities Minister, are indicative of the gender ideologies at work within state structures (Valentini 1997; Guerrina 2005; Hausmann et al. 2009). Mainstream public policy literature struggles to ﬁnd an appropriate category for the Italian welfare regime. Focusing on the centrality of the family, it is often categorized as belonging to the Mediterranean model. However, vast regional differences in terms of economic performance, political participation and social norms produce a complex scenario for the analysis of social policies (Guadagnini and Donà 2007: 164; Velluti 2008). Jane Lewis’s (1992) typology of male breadwinner states perhaps provides a more useful way of thinking about the relationship between the function of care and social inequalities. Despite her recent shift away from this particular typology in favour of one based on the adult worker model (Lewis 2001; Giullari and Lewis 2005), the male breadwinner ideology remains relevant...
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