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  • The Italian flag waves in front of The "Altare della Patria" also known as "Vittoriano" downtown Rome, Italy, March 23, 2016.

    The Italian flag waves in front of The "Altare della Patria" also known as "Vittoriano" downtown Rome, Italy, March 23, 2016. | Photo: Reuters

Published 7 March 2019

Members of the Five Star Movement have said the leaflet "takes us back decades"

Italy’s far-right League lead by Matteo Salvini has managed to produce an overtly sexist tribute to International Women’s Day with a leaflet deemed comically backwards and which claims that the "natural role of women” is “the promotion and support of life and the family.”

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The flyer contains a list of six ways in which “the natural role of women” is impeded, such as by “those who claim self-determination that arouses rancorous attitudes towards men” or who support laws that would allow same-sex couples to declare themselves as a child’s parents on official documents.

The list goes on to attack same-sex couples, the LGBTQ community, and immigrants while insulting women’s basic rights to self-sufficiency and autonomy. In a wild array of targets, the list hits on policies in Italy such as the “Pink Quota,” an initiative to improve equality in the workforce, and condemns surrogate pregnancies.

The leaflet was created by a local branch of Italy’s League party in Crotone, Calabria, to be handed out at a Women’s Day celebration in front of its town hall Saturday. It was also shared on the group’s Facebook page, prompting reactions of outrage and disbelief.

"This text offends the dignity of anthropologists, sociologists and human scientists who have been working for more than a hundred years to study society,” one social media user commented, Italian media The Local reported. “This concept of the natural role has been outdated since the 50s. But what do you know? Making propaganda is easier than studying."

The post has since been removed from the social media site. The far-right leader Salvini later told press he didn’t know about it and added, “I don’t agree with some of the contents.”

Women members of the League’s government coalition partner, the Five Star Movement issued a statement distancing themselves from the leaflet, saying it “takes us back decades."

Senator Alessia Rotta of the Democratic Party said the flyer was “a list of cliches and insults as well as an attempt to relegate women to a reproductive role.”

“The only horrifying laws are those presented by the League, such as the Pillon bill,” Rotta added, referring to divorce legislation proposed by League Senator Simone Pillon which would make it harder for people to file for divorce and establish custody, meaning survivors of domestic abuse and children would be at greater risk.

Compared to the rest of Europe, Italy ranks poorly for gender equality according to the World Economic Forum's 2017 global gender gap report.


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