Italian schools are set to address machismo, sexism, and both psychological and physical violence against women in a groundbreaking initiative. The relationship education project was announced by Education Minister Giuseppe Valditara today.
Described as a “big mobilisation,” this initiative marks the first of its kind in Italy, aiming to prevent and curb gender-based violence.
Presenting the ‘Educating in Relationship’ project in the Senate, Valditara emphasised that the government’s response to the femicide of 22-year-old Giulia Cecchettin includes civic education spanning elementary to high school. Additionally, a specific program focusing on high school students through discussion groups will be implemented. Teachers are urged to instil a culture of respect in all school activities.
The genesis of the ‘Educating in Relationship’ project was traced back to events in Palermo and Caivano last summer, and Valditara expressed a strong desire to combat the lingering macho culture that permeates the country. Referring to high-profile gang rapes in Palermo and Naples allegedly involving minors, he stated, “Enough is enough” and deemed it unacceptable for women to endure harassment, violence, and recent tragic events.
Addressing male chauvinism
Valditara clarified that the project addresses prevalent male chauvinism in various aspects of daily life, including school, work, and public spaces. The initiative represents an evolution of the 2015 ‘Educating in Respect’ program and will initially be voluntary for schools. Each participating school will appoint a teacher focal point, with training provided for discussion group moderators. The program will span 30 hours, followed by result monitoring.
Concurrently, the Senate is reviewing a bill, authored by Family and Equal Opportunities Minister Eugenia Roccella, aimed at enhancing protection for women in danger and survivors of gender-based violence. Approved by the Lower House after government endorsement in June, the bill introduces new restraining orders, increased surveillance on domestic violence perpetrators, and enhancements to the emergency gender violence hotline. Roccella emphasized the measures’ goal to “interrupt the cycle of violence” and to “act promptly and effectively.”