Italian President under fire for 'wise men' group

Italian President Giorgio Napolitano leaves after a media conference at the Quirinale palace in...

Italian President Giorgio Napolitano leaves after a media conference at the Quirinale palace in Rome, March 30, 2013. (REUTERS/Remo Casilli)

James Mackenzie, REUTERS

, Last Updated: 12:49 PM ET

Italian President Giorgio Napolitano faced criticism on Sunday for failing to name any women to the 10-strong “wise men” panel of experts he appointed to help find a way out of the political deadlock created by last month’s election.

The group of advisers, including a former head of the constitutional court, the chief of statistics agency ISTAT, a board member of the Bank of Italy and senior politicians from the centre-right and centre-left blocs in parliament, are due to meet for the first time on Tuesday.

“It’s sad, very sad. The fact that there are 10 men and not a single woman is sad,” said former European Commissioner Emma Bonino, one of Italy’s most prominent campaigners for equal rights for women in politics.

“One thing I can say. This commission does not reflect the make-up of our society. It denies the presence of women in society, it isn’t a far-sighted choice,” she told the daily La Repubblica.

While Italy’s election failed to produce a clear result, it did yield what has been hailed as a positive change of direction in terms of a big increase in women parliamentarians to around 31% from 20% previously.

Criticisms of the failure to represent women on the advisory panel came on Twitter from figures including Giulia Bongiorno, one of Italy’s most prominent lawyers, and television presenter Michelle Hunziker, who said: “I can see things aren’t getting any better”.

Daily newspaper Corriere della Sera said in a front page article: “As usual there isn’t a woman”.

Italian women have long struggled for equality and have the third lowest level of employment of any country in the 34-member Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), ahead of only Greece, Mexico and Turkey.


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