In a continent, Europe, where no country has so far reached gender equality, Italy has taken a crucial step forward in the fight against women’s discrimination in the workplace. This is the law 162/2021 and it has given hope to the millions of girls who are now studying to reach gender independence in a still embarrassingly male-dominated economy.
Law 162/2021 introduced various innovations in the field of equal opportunities for men and women in the workplace. First of all, the law lowered to fifty employees the size threshold for requiring that companies make a report on the staff situation on a two-year basis. The report must contain information in relation to the status of hiring, training, professional promotion, retirements and much more. However, the real novelty of law 162/2021 is the introduction of the so-called gender certification: this is a voluntary certification that is requested to certify the compliance of the company organization with the principles of equality between genders, in terms of pay and career conditions. Companies which have obtained the certification will be exempt from paying social security contributions, for a value equal to 1% of the generality of employees and up to a maximum of 50,000 euros per year.
This is an essential step forward that the country had to make. If girls graduate earlier and better than boys but then suffer more unemployment, if they are paid less than men even with identical tasks, if they are penalized more or less explicitly in their careers as soon as they become mothers, it’s clear that the gender gap in Italy is a gigantic problem. Nonetheless, not only is this an unmotivated form of discrimination against women, but this is also a tremendous obstacle to the development of the economy: so as to build a bright future, gender inequality must be dealt with, as otherwise this will be an inexcusable waste of resources. As data shows, any country can benefit from a more significant participation of women in the economy.
Nevertheless, it’s clear that this notion hasn’t been widely comprehended as there hasn’t been any significant improvement in this direction in the last few years. And that’s where the new law comes in help: it will force companies to concretely face the idea that an investment in female talent is convenient for the country and for the singular companies. But this is not the only good piece of news. The new law also emphasizes the need for a reconciliation between professional and private times of care: personal and family care are now among the reasons protected by the prohibition of discrimination between men and women in the workplace. These have been cause of gender discrimination for centuries and this certification allows the new generation of women to hope in more successful policies at promoting gender equality.
For the first time, we, young women, are seeing a concrete tool to promote female employment and gender and wage equality within companies. But the road is still long. We still have a marathon to run. We cannot stop walking towards now: it’s the time to sprint. Even if it is arduous, even if we are losing our hopes and our energies, we must remember that we are getting closer to the finishing line. And now that we have this law, we can have the certainty that we will actually win the marathon. We can still achieve gender equality. Not only for us. But also for all the future generations of young women.