Non Una Di Meno: Italian Feminist Movement Against Gender Based Violence

By Martina

November 25th is known as the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. On that day in 2016, a large number of activists occupied the street of Rome for a demo called #NonUnaDiMeno (Italian translation of #NiUnaMenos, name of the Feminist Collective born in Argentina and soon spread all over South America). Indeed, the slogan was chosen to share solidarity with all the women who experienced violence around the world. In English, it can be translated as “Not One Less”, because no more women have to be subdued, abused, murdered by a male-dominated society. 

The movement was born in Rome, where different groups of feminists where already discussing on topics such as law system, education on difference, free choice. Three are the main associations that supported the creation of NUDM. IoDecido, based in Rome, advocates for gender equality in the capital’s streets, suburbs, schools, hospitals. UDI (Unione Donne in Italia), formed at the end of WWII, is the oldest Feminist group in Italy and protagonist of the struggles for the conquest of fundamental women’s rights (right to vote, to be educated, to work). Since the 1970s it has been demanding that Italian political agenda include themes concerning all aspects of feminine experience, from abortion to sexual harassment. Di.Re (Donne in Rete) is the first national network of non-establishment anti-violence centers and shelters that helped many women to liberate themselves from abuse. From the collaboration between the three groups and other feminist activists in Rome, a new plan against male violence was designed and officially presented on November 25th 2016. The concept is simple: male violence against women should not be treated as an emergency but as a structural problem.

The anti-violence plan consists of twelve points that redefine Italy’s welfare policies: as stated by Marina Montanelli, PhD in Philosophy at University of Florence and member of the grassroots movement, domestic and working violence can be defeated with improvements in our system that does not encourage women at all, but instead leaves them in insecure employment situations – or even unemployed. One of the proposal is a minimum European wage, which would help Italy overcome the big wage gap issue. Other points of this plan include the request of more funds for anti-violence centers and counselling centers, investments on education – in order to talk about gender in public schools and teach new generations how to overcome gender stereotypes, protection for women of foreign origin who are escaping from violence, creation of databases to monitor abuses on working places and wage gaps. Another interesting point concerns a new training for journalists to prevent them from treating violence as an emergency and encourage them to talk about “survivors” rather than “victims”, to clarify that the reason cannot be minimized as men’s “rage”. In fact, the only cause is a sexist culture, where patriarchy is the norm. 

On March 8th 2017, International Women’s Day, NUDM took part for the first time in the Global Feminist Strike: for 24 hours many women went on strike in the streets, in the workplace, in the houses. Any woman – working women, but also unemployed and students – was invited to take part in it and to speak out about inequalities. The slogan that could be read on banners said: “Lotto Marzo” (a pun made using the word “lotto”, to fight, which sounds as “l’otto”, the 8th) and it soon became the motto of Italian women’s fight. 

NUDM keeps the Global Feminist Strike alive by taking part in it every year and not only in Rome. NUDM spread across the country and even medium cities and small towns became more and more active, organizing their own demonstrations and standing in solidarity for each other. Moreover, internationally famous celebrities offered their moral and active support for NUDM activities. On March 8th 2018, actress Asia Argento – one of the first women to denounce Harvey Weinstein’s abuses and to spread the hashtag #metoo in Italy and beyond – joined NUDM’s demo in Rome. Since she first spoke up about Weinstein’s case, Asia was insulted by misogynistic voices instead of being supported. She stated in a video published on NUDM official Facebook page the reasons why she decided to join the rally and how she wants to spread the #wetogether concept, the natural consequence of #metoo which encourages women to support each other and be strong together.

Two years later, Italian women met again on the streets of their cities and towns to participate in the traditional strike. This time, NUDM announced the next action: the movement would organize an event in Verona to protest against the World Congress of Families (WCF), a convention of anti-LGBT, anti-feminist and anti-abortion activists which took place in the Northern Italian city – ironically, the setting of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, a story about toxic families rivalry. The Congress, founded by local authority tied with Italy’s far-right League Party, went on for three days and guests discussed how to promote pro-life ideas, while condemning homosexuality and same-sex marriage, abortion, divorce, in the name of God, Homeland and Family. During the event, a fetus-shaped gadget was distributed to all participants accompanied by slogans such as: “Abortion stops a beating heart”.

NUDM’s protest on this occasion was a “transfeminist” demonstration: feminism is not only about women; feminists and LGBTQ+ communities must support each other against discrimination based on gender. During their anti-congress, NUDM held workshops and talks about gender equality, education on gender theory and of course a march on the streets of Verona. On this occasion, NUDM could also focus on their fight against the DdL Pillon, a new law proposal by pro-life far-right politician Simone Pillon, which is criticised to impede divorce, to focus on the adults rather than the children’s rights, to minimize cases in which divorce is the consequence of domestic violence. NUDM expressed their opposition to this law and fought hard against its approval.

However, recently a new law called Codice Rosso (Red Code) was approved by the Italian Parliament. This law is supposed to prevent violence against women and focuses on the punishment of revenge porn and domestic violence. The latter one is described as an emergency and such cases need a fast-track. Although attention was put on violence against women and new stricter punishments were introduced, the structural causes persist and organizations and anti-violence centers, who are fighting this battle every day, are not getting enough funds. Anti-violence centers are very important, as a way to stay close to women who experienced abuses and offer them legal, psychological and medical assistance where the establishment lacks in providing help.

Non Una Di Meno is at the moment the biggest grassroots TransFeminist movement in Italy. Its action does not stop at public demonstrations but is present in everyday life thanks to an extensive network and offices in every Italian city. Fighting is hard, but their voice is louder and deserves to be heard.

Non Una Di Meno



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