“UNA SUPER MADRE AL PODER". REPRESENTATION AND POSITIONING OF A WOMAN POLITICAL LEADER IN THE BOLIVIAN CASE OF THE EX-PRESIDENT JEANINE ANEZ
University of Messina, Italy
In recent years, in Latin America there has been a substantial improvement in formal gender equality thanks to the commitments made by governments under agreements (the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women and the Convención Interamericana para Prevenir, Sancionar y Erradicar la Violencia contra la Mujer) that have encouraged legal and institutional reforms geared towards guaranteeing women's fundamental rights and legal equality between men and women (Marchionni, 2018). This created an institutional mechanism that favoured not only an advancement of women's status in terms of equality, but also the adoption of laws against familiar violence and in favour of women's right to a life free from violence.
However, at a substantial level there is still a clear gender gap that requires public interventions to allow women to have the same opportunities as men in access to resources, training, participation in decision-making spaces. The World Economic Forum's data on the Global Gender Gap for 2019 show a still large gender gap in terms of political empowerment in Latin America.
Despite this, Bolivia has reached 50% of women parliamentarians and 50% of women ministers.
The political presence of women in state and non-state public spaces and their protagonism in social movements and other collective actions has gradually increased and has contributed to an expansion of democracy and important transformations in political culture. The government of Morales made a decisive contribution, especially by the law 26/2010 which allowed women great access to the legislative assembly. At the same time, however, it brought to the surface the resistance and structural restrictions of a patriarchal, colonialist and liberal political system that prevented what that equality achieved on a legal level from helping to overcome the conditions of inequality, discrimination and social exclusion.
Within this framework, our contribution analyses the figure of Jeanine Añez, who served as interim president of Bolivia after the 2019 coup against Morales, until the election of the current President Arce. As symbol of the achievements made in recent years in the field of women's political participation, Añez, a right-wing, white, Catholic woman and lawyer belonging to Bolivia's upper middle class, represents herself as a charismatic leader who embraces some of the principles of feminism, bringing them together with nationalist and liberal positions.
The analysis shows how this "femonationalist" (Fraser, 2019) representation intersects with that of the "super mother" (Montero, 2019), loving and dedicated to the care of her children (people) making a peculiar figure of a woman political leader emerge. This representation, in which her gender identity, conservative values, ideologic position, party affiliation, religious faith converge, corresponds to a contradictory political discourse that uses on the one hand the maternal feminine to show sensitivity towards the excluded, and on the other hand racist expressions towards indigenous peoples. Her representation ends up reproducing gender stereotypes and strengthening the patriarchal colonial social structure.
BEYOND THE EMERGENCY: TOWARDS A THEMATIC REPRESENTATION OF GENDER-BASED VIOLENCE IN THE ITALIAN PRESS? A COMPARISON BETWEEN TWO ITALIAN NEWSPAPERS
Università degli Studi della Tuscia, Italy
In the last two decades, due to the numerous global awareness campaigns that attracted growing attention on gender issues, the phenomenon of violence against women has become more visible in the public sphere and in the media landscape.
Starting from the idea that media play an important role in spreading cultural models and represent the main source for people to know and interpret reality, the aim of the paper is to explore the social representation of gender-based violence in the Italian press and to understand what role it plays in the perpetuation of a social structure based on unequal power relations between genders, in which women are in a disadvantaged position.
The work is based on the data collected within the research project STEP – Stereotypes and prejudice. Toward a cultural change in gender representation in judicial, law enforcement and media narrative led by Tuscia University and coordinated by Professor Flaminia Saccà. It relies on the analysis of a corpus containing more than 16,000 articles published in Italian newspapers in the period between the 1st of January 2017 and the 31st December 2019, dealing with the issue of gender-based violence and with the crimes connected to it: domestic violence, rape, femicide, stalking, women trafficking.
From the analysis of the corpus two main types of representation of gender-based violence emerged: an episodic representation of gender-based violence as a private matter, according to which violence perpetrated within a private, familiar or domestic context is an accident that is narrated as a chronicle fact; and a thematic representation of violence that describes it as a cultural issue, namely as the manifestation of an historical continuum of violence and oppression that involves women and men all over the world. In particular, through the comparison between two Italian newspapers, “Libero Quotidiano” and “Il Manifesto”, this work aims to analyze and describe the two different types of representation of gender-based violence and to discuss the social effects of each type of representation.
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CHALLENGING STEREOTYPES ABOUT WOMEN LEADERS: AN ANALYSIS OF JACINDA ARDERN’S DISCOURSE DURING THE PANDEMIC
Università della Tuscia, Italy
In the context of the Covid-19 meta-crisis, leadership styles have emerged as a key factor for determining a country’s ability to contain the contagion and recover. The construction of leadership relies on cultural stereotypes and prejudices, that are at work in the social representation of the male/female gap. Many studies have suggested that women leaders have proven to be more attentive to experts’ advice and more inclined to follow scientific evidence in decision-making processes and official communication. In particular, the case of New Zealand has emerged as a global benchmark for the capacity of its leader, Jacinda Ardern, to combine an empathic leadership (as she has repeatedly defined herself) and scientific rigor. This article argues that women leaders have successfully governed the crises originated by the pandemic not only because of their inherent ability to build relationships, enhance community bonds, and “tune” with the anxieties of citizens; the women leaders’ approach to science has proven to be decisive as well. Contrarily to common-sense expectations, when compared with men leaders, women have demonstrated to be more responsive and attentive to scientific advice, and to use their understanding of science as a factor of legitimacy.
The paper presents the results of the analysis of this case study in the framework of a broader research project granted by the Italian Ministry of University and led by prof. Flaminia Saccà (principal investigator prof. Carlo Ruzza, University of Trento). The aim is to identify themes, argumentative strategies and rhetorical formulas that have been used by Jacinda Ardern during the crucial months of the national lockdown, between March and May 2020. The analysis relies on a combination of techniques that are rooted in discourse studies, such as frame analysis, identification of topoi and linguistic analysis.
As expected, the ability of Jacinda Ardern to be clear and transparent, and to “tune” with the anxieties of citizens emerge as key traits of her communication, and prove to be even more important when addressing the needs of specific sectors of the population (such as women suffering for domestic violence, new mothers, single parents, children, elders, mentally ill people, religious communities and ethnic minorities). At the same time, and perhaps less predictably, the leader has combined this feature with an authoritative stance towards people not respecting the rules of containment, or pushing for loosening such rules in contrast with experts’ advice. According to our findings, this unusual blend between empathy and rigor has determined Jacinda Ardern’s success in fighting the virus and in conquering the second term at the general elections in October 2020.
EDUCATING TO THE CONTRAST OF STEREOTYPES AND PREJUDICES IN THE SOCIAL REPRESENTATION OF GENDER VIOLENCE: THE STEP PROJECT CASE STUDY
Tuscia University, Italy
Ten years after the Instanbul Convention we find that there is till a long way to go in order to effectively eradicate gender violence worldwide and that stereotypes and prejudices supporting and reproducing it are still extremely widespread and harmful. In our research project (STEP) we have targeted stereotypes and prejudices in the social representation of gender violence in the press and in the judiciary system. We have analyzed 16.714 articles and 282 judgements in order to assess which stereotypes and prejudices, if any, were activated in the narration of gender violence by the press and the judiciary system. We have found various patterns through which gender stereotypes contribute to the distorted perception of the phenomenon and have started training students, journalists, lawyers and judges in order to make them aware of how these stereotypes work and how harmful they can be for women but also for justice and democracy as a whole. In this paper we will discuss findings, best and worst practices as well as possible paths for future researches
GENDER BIAS IN THE LEGAL REPRESENTATION OF VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN. A SOCIO-CULTURAL ANALYSIS OF THE SENTENCES IN THE ITALIAN COURTS (ABSTRACT)
Università della Tuscia, Italy
Ten years after the signing of the Istanbul Convention, Italian legislation on violence against women has greatly evolved. However, the representation of this violence reproduced in the texts of the sentences issued by our courts shows that there is still yet a significant distance not only between social behaviour and the most advanced principles of law, but also between the latter and the daily practices acted by the legal system. The analysis conducted on a sample of 283 sentences relating to crimes of violence against women (domestic violence; sexual violence; murder / femicide; human trafficking; stalking) shows how stereotypes and prejudices regarding gender relations, role expectations and women representation are still strongly rooted in our society and, at least partially, in our courtrooms.
The paper aims to identify and describe the main critical elements found in the representation of violence against women proposed by the language of the verdicts, focusing in particular on the ways of depicting the victim and on the resilience of three social biases: family quarrels, jealousy and raptus.
The paper presents data from the research «STEP - Stereotype and Prejudice. For a Cultural Change in Gender Representation in the Judiciary, Law Enforcement and Media Reporting ". The research is coordinated by Professor Flaminia Saccà, and financed in Italy by the Presidency of the Council of Ministers - Department for Equal Opportunities.
GENDER ISSUES AS A POLITICAL RESOURCE: REFLECTIONS ABOUT THE REPRESENTATION OF WOMEN, STEREOTYPES AND GENDER-BASED VIOLENCE
Università di Messina, Italia
According to the World Economic Forums Global Gender Gap Index on gender equity issues, Italy gained 13 positions in 2020, rising from 76th to 63rd place out of 156 countries. This important improvement was most likely due to Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, who during his second government reached an historical record with 34% of Women represented within his Governments staff. But as happens in other fields, such as the economic sector, Women leaders who hold top positions in institutions or establish themselves as party leaders are still a minority. In Europe, for example, there are only six countries with women at the head of Government. Among them, the Finnish Prime Minister, Sanna Marin, who is one of the youngest premieres in the World, and who has made gender equity a tool to aggregate consensus, conveying new rhetoric and imaginaries that challenge gender expectations.
In Italy, one of the few examples of a Woman in a senior political position is represented by the right-wing party leader Giorgia Meloni. This unusual prominent position opens up many questions: What happens when a political leader is a woman? Does identity recognition become political good practice? Are these leadership models capable of deconstructing stereotypes and prejudices therefore triggering a new culture of gender equity?
This paper has carried out an analysis of the relationship between politics and gender representations through a specific case study. The research focuses on the Italian populist leader, Giorgia Meloni’s use of public communication to reconstruct gender representations through the way that she uses the topic of gender-based violence. The content analysis methodology will include the contents of tweets published by Meloni throughout 2020, her public statements and her official speeches relating to gender-based violence issues.
The results of the research show how gender issues become a resource to rearticulate the more traditional political dynamics typical of populism as well as other traditionalist and xenophobic parties without deconstructing consolidated social stereotypes and helping their reproduction.
Arfini E., Ghigi R., Magaraggia S. (2019), “Can feminism be right? A content analysis of discourses about women by female Italian right-wing politicians”, Rassegna Italiana di Sociologia, LX, 4: 693-719.
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Mudde C., Kaltwasser R.C. (2015) “Voxpopuli or voxmasculini? Populism and gender in Northern Europe and South America”, Patterns of Prejudice, 49, 1-2: 16-36.
Saccà F., La rappresentazione sociale della violenza contro le donne, in “Sociologia”, n.1/2021.