Feature

Italy's 'stifling' treatment of women: By the numbers

With a sex-scandal plagued leader and one of the worst gender-gap rankings in the West, are Italian women losing ground?

The World Economic Forum's recently released 2010 Global Gender Gap Rankings paint "an appalling portrait" of Prime Minister Silvio Berluscioni's Italy, says Barbie Nadeau in Newsweek. Other European countries have been working toward greater gender equality, says Nadeau, but "Berlusconi has led the charge in the opposite direction, effectively stifling women by creating a world in which they are seen first and foremost as sex objects instead of professional equals." Italy ranked 74th for its treatment of women — seven places lower than when Berlusconi returned to office in 2008, and one of the lowest rankings in the European Union. Here, a brief guide to the place of women in Berlusconi's Italy, by the numbers:

74Italy's ranking in the 2010 World Economic Forum Global Gender Gap Report

19The United States' ranking

41Kazakhstan's ranking

20 percentHow much less Italian women earn than their male counterparts

45 percent The percentage of Italian women who work outside the home — compared with 80 percent of Norwegian women

21 Hours a week that Italian women with jobs outside the home spend on housework

4Hours a week that American women with jobs outside the home spend on housework

80Leisure minutes Italian men get each day beyond what their female counterparts get

70 percentThe percentage of Italian men who have never used a stove

95 percentThe percentage of Italian men who have never used a washing machine

Over 100,000 The number of women who signed a petition titled "Berlusconi Offends Us" last year after he told a female opposition member of parliament "you're more beautiful than you are intelligent"

6th placeRanking Mara Carfagna, Italy's minister of equality, took in the 1997 Miss Italy contest. Berlusconi appointed Carfagna, a former topless model, to the position in 2008, after telling her he would "gladly marry her" if he didn't already have a wife. Mrs. Berlusconi reportedly was not amused by the comment.

95 percentShare of the Italian TV market under Berlusconi's control — he owns 45 percent, and presides over state television, 50 percent of the market, as prime minister. With the "parade of prurience" on prime time, "the media make it clear that men are men, and women are window dressing," says Barbie Nadeau in Newsweek.

74The age of Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi

18The birthday "aspiring" TV presenter Noemi Letizia was celebrating last year when Berlusconi, whom she calls "Daddy", dropped by with a gift for her. Berlusconi's former wife, Veronica Lario, announced she was divorcing him shortly thereafter, saying "I cannot stay with a man who frequents minors."

17The age of the runaway Moroccan belly dancer at the center of Berlusconi's most recent sex scandal

22The age of Berlusconi's youngest child, Luigi

Sources: Bloomberg, Newsweek, The Week, NPR, Womensphere, Daily Mail, The Economist, Guardian (2)

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