edited by Scarlett Silvestre e Isabella Orphan (ActionAid Italy)

From 2013 to 2022, state funds earmarked for anti-violence structures have gradually increased. Furthermore, through the latest budget law, Italy has finally permanently equipped itself with a National anti-violence plan to be financed annually with 15 million euros. Between 2020 and 2023, then, around 13,8 million euros were allocated for the national freedom income to guarantee women included in paths to escape from violence 400 euros per month for a year. These are certainly actions to improve the Italian anti-violence system but, if these figures are cross-referenced with the state of the art of the policies in question, as well as the data and daily experiences of anti-violence centers and shelters, the situation is far from the same. be considered positive.

First, the National Strategic Plan on Male Violence against Women 2021-2023, 18 months after its launch, it has not yet been integrated with the operational annex which details the roles, responsibilities, timing and related financial resources to carry out the numerous activities listed. Beyond the times obviously impossible to meet, it is almost unrealistic to implement all the planned interventions with the funds allocated with the 2022 and 2023 budget laws. This is, among other things, the result of the lack of a structured, intersectional and periodic analysis of the needs of the anti-violence system and of the assisted women, as well as the related costs to be incurred. This lack can also be seen in the analysis of the funds allocated to anti-violence centers and shelters, as provided for by art. 5-up to of Legislative Decree 93/2013. Despite the exponential increase from 2013 to 2022 (+369%, going from around 9 million a year to around 30), the economic resources are still largely inadequate to guarantee the sustainability of the structures. In fact, it is estimated that, in 2022, an average of 39 euros were allocated to an anti-violence center and 36 euros to a shelter, funds that still take too long to reach their destination (on average 14 months) causing – by now systemic – difficulties for many realities and undermining the right for women to live a life free from violence.

The same type of approach has also been used to finance the freedom income, making available largely insufficient resources to respond to the potential audience of beneficiaries. In the three-year period 2020-2022, 2.500 women had access to this measure, while in 2023 there will be even fewer due to the reduction in the funds made available: around 300. These are numbers that are very far from those calculated by Istat (2021), according to which there would be 21.000 women a year included in paths to escape from violence who could benefit from economic support measures. Yet, the freedom income could play a fundamental role in the process of socio-economic empowerment of women, especially if made structural through a dedicated law, adequately financed, made flexible in terms of duration and methods of disbursement of the contribution.

If you take them into consideration then lesser-known forms of gender-based violence, such as female genital mutilation (FGM) and early and forced marriages (MPF), the situation is even more serious. Although they are mentioned in the anti-violence plan and are punished by specific rules (law 7/2006 and law 69/2019 respectively), there is almost no information on the funds disbursed and the activities carried out. For example, an analysis of the budget laws for the three-year period 2021-2023 shows that 3.074.103 million euros have been allocated to the Department for Equal Opportunities, the Ministry of the Interior and that of Health for prevention and contrast actions to FGM but, to date, no public data is available regarding their intended use and relative efficacy. 

In the light of this picture, it is evident that the Italian anti-violence system is inadequately financed and without any systemic vision based on integrated policies, necessary not only to provide support to women supported by anti-violence structures, but above all to combat gender inequalities and discrimination and, therefore, prevent any form of male and institutional violence. In this sense, the opportunity to use funds from the PNRR to strengthen the Italian anti-violence system has also been lost. The Italian institutions have demonstrated, once again, that male violence against women is certainly not a priority for this country. 

Notes and references:

  1.  ActionAid, Chronicles of a missed opportunitya, November 2021.
  2. ActionAid, Rights at stake. Income, home and work for the independence of women escaping violence, November 2022.