Women holding high responsibilities are increasing, but gender inequality persists
A few months ago, I became president of the Centro Teatrale Bresciano (Brescia Theatre Centre). We belong to TRIC, Theatres of Relevant Cultural Interest, according to a decree issued by the Ministry of Culture; we have a balance sheet; we get subsidies from the State and funds from public and private organizations; we have a board of auditors and staff employed on a permanent basis and on a fixed-term contract. We produce performances that are later shown in other Italian theatres (at the moment, for instance, a Medea starring Franco Branciaroli), and we also host independent performances.
When I travel to Brescia, the town where I grew up but no longer live, everybody calls me “President”. At the beginning, I used to turn around to check who they were talking to: writers, journalists like me are generally not used to such formalities and titles. Furthermore, I am the president of a Board of Directors that includes three women out of four members. Practically, there is only one man at the highest level.
Equal opportunities, but free of charge
«Did you notice?», asked me a director once, «Most of us are women! The world is changing!», she underlined proudly, stressing how exceptional and gratifying was this situation of fair opportunities occurring in the forward-looking town of Brescia. Immediately after, another far-seeing director made a comment: «Pity we are all here on a voluntary basis and free of charge. We should keep in mind that, only a few years ago, when boards of directors were exclusively made by men, the posts were payed and also got attendance fees. Millions of euros were paid every time the president and the directors joined meetings. In fact, they used to have frequent meetings, even when there was nothing to talk about».
Gender pride, a difficult but stimulating challenge
After that day, the issue of gender pride has never been raised again. We are going to look for a young playwright who could put it into a theatrical work, encouraging a constructive outburst of pride. Moreover, when I was nominated for the presidency, I asked some of my acquaintances for advice. Women friends pushed me to accept the challenge, while men friends asked me immediately how much I was going to be paid and, once told it was a free of charge post, they warned me that chairing a board of directors implies legal responsibilities: why doing it if you are not paid for it?
The truth is that there is not going to be female leadership if we don’t start accepting the opportunities as they arise, well aware that fair opportunities are still out-of-reach. The work ahead is stimulating, and I mean it for the overall female world: our commitment is to transform our leaderships, crippled during the battle against the former leaders, who used to surround themselves with ease, a situation no longer morally acceptable. We should also be aware that the never-ending crisis in which the country is presently stuck is the general excuse used to cover any sign of unequal treatments.
(Translation by Cecilia Braghin)