Puglia Region’s Equality Councilor in defense of free expression
By Francesca Rizzo
“There is a piece of the Jobs Act under discussion right now, which we hope can be passed as soon as possible, because it would give protections for maternity, for health and for access to European funds, which for now female freelancers are denied.” The speech by Serenella Molendini, Councillor of Equality for the Region of Puglia, starts from a broad perspective, that of being born a woman, and then focuses on the professional aspect: exercising risky professions, without protections, accepting in some cases a “lesser evil” made up of abuse and harassment.
As she recounted, in 2010 Molendini, as an Equality Councilor for the Province of Lecce, conducted an investigation into undeclared work in the world of journalism. “A discouraging picture emerged,” Molendini reports, “of extremely precarious work, articles that were paid, if they were paid at all, 5 euros, of sometimes black and sketchy work, but also of sexual harassment in the workplace. A situation common to many women, journalists or not, aggravated by having made a conscious choice, in wanting to take up a difficult, not very “feminine” profession: “being women and (…) seeking answers, feeling free to ask questions, exposing one’s opinions, is completely at odds, radically, with that image of women proper to a patriarchal, macho and tribal society.”
Serenella Molendini conducted a survey of journalism in the province of Lecce: in many newsrooms, moonlighting seems to be the norm, facilitated by victims’ fear of reporting
The constant battle alongside women workers has taught her that women in particular are reluctant to report incidents of violence, because they fear that the situation will take even more unpleasant turns; perhaps the most serious aspect, however, is that these women feel abandoned by those who should be deputed to defend them: “In the interviews and focuses I conducted as a result of this research, there was also a lot of disappointment on the part of young women, because they did not feel protected even by the Assostampa, the union, the Order, the institutions: they felt the institutions were distant.”
“As far as I am concerned,” Molendini continued, “standing by the side of women journalists has been a moral imperative,” and continues to be so every day.The Councilwoman turns to women journalists and aspiring journalists to remind them that they are not alone, that there are those who stand by their side to lead society to change and demand justice for the wrongs they have suffered. “The Councilwoman is here because she deals with women and labor, she is the only Public Official of an equality body, no one else can take legal action with respect to these issues. So I give my availability always and in any case to welcome you, to listen to you, to support you and to protect you.”