The project ‘La Casa delle Donne’ is born in Florence
Maria Petrucci, co-founder of the Spazio CO-STANZA, interviewed Isabella Mancini (Nosotras Association President) to talk about an important new project in the city of Florence: La Casa delle Donne a Firenze.
Supported by the Municipality of Florence (Italy) and led by the DoMo association, which stands for ‘Donne in Movimento per i Diritti‘ (Women standing for Rights), was created with the aim of coordinating and implementing initiatives in support of women.
The project is the result of a path that has lasted several years and has seen the involvement of a network of associations that joined the Florence City Council’s Women’s network and Portal (Portale Donna).
The public space in Florence city centre, entrusted by the Municipality of Florence to DoMo association, named La Casa delle Donne a Firenze, will host cultural, artistic, and educational projects and events promoted by the network. It is meant to attract and involve the entire community of Florence, with the goal of facilitating dialogue and discussion on human rights issues, with a special focus on matters concerning women.
In this interview, Isabella Mancini will explain in which ways the planned initiatives for ‘La Casa delle Donne‘ can empower women in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) and digital fields.
1° The correlation between digital literacy and the exercise of rights is becoming increasingly evident. Among the various activities that will be organized, will there be a place for digital empowerment? How do you intend to promote digital training and education?
There are many ways to help one’s community growth. Data released by institutions like the WEF (World Economic Forum) or the ITU (International Telecommunication Union) paint a world where internet access has increased, although this primarily pertains to economically stronger countries, with women still at a significant disadvantage in any case.
Data helps us understand the phenomenon in a more complex and intersectional manner: women and women in developing countries are the most disadvantaged. There is a socio-cultural factor at play (the perception of women as mothers and wives) and an economic factor, the lack of economic independence.
In a space like the Casa delle Donne in Florence, this theme will certainly find a home. On one hand, there is a digital divide and digital illiteracy, while on the other hand, there are experiences of gender-based associationism related to strengthening digital skills and raising awareness on the subject. Through these initiatives, we will build networks and relationships, providing opportunities to promote awareness and training sessions for accessing the digital world.
2° The research conducted in the early months of the FeminICT project (in a comparative perspective across all participating countries) clearly shows that there is a gender gap in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) fields at the European level, starting from the number of women enrolled in university faculties related to these areas. Beyond the alarming statistic itself, another immediate question arises: some of these fields are among the most lucrative and therefore play a crucial role in terms of economic and political power. How can the Casa delle Donne contribute to reversing this trend?
The Casa delle Donne will be a space of opportunities. Opportunities for cultural exchange and the sharing of information, a place where women who are already engaged in various fields, such as medicine, social sciences, and technology and computer sciences, can take center stage. It is a space that should be filled with content and relationships, a space of mutual recognition and empowerment of the power that every woman brings within herself through her professional and life expertise.
The medium-term objective is precisely this: a place for the exchange of knowledge. And in the medium and long term, the enhancement of skills to generate economic value and, consequently, political influence.
3° What collaborations, technical resources, and materials do you have available or intend to implement to support women’s learning in the STEM and/or digital field?
The project includes a co-design phase focused on analyzing the needs of the community in the metropolitan area of Florence. It is our intention to open this phase to nonprofit and associative organizations that are dedicated to gender-related issues. We will need young students who are willing to contribute their ideas for shaping the future, as well as established women who want to share their knowledge and expertise.
This is the phase of collaborations, open to the entire community. Then, there will be the phase of designing activities that will concretely define the purpose of this network of meetings. From a material perspective, there will also be a need for support and donations: computers, laptops, tablets that can be used to facilitate access and provide training programs. Just to emphasize, the project is entirely supported by the associations that make up ATS DoMo, which stands for “Donne in Movimento per i Diritti,” composed of Nosotras Onlus, Le Curandaie, and Associazione Co-Cò.
4° When talking about digital and technology, we cannot avoid addressing the generational gap. Can the Casa delle Donne also become a meeting place in this regard? How do you intend to ensure that the Casa delle Donne is an accessible and inclusive space for women of different ages, backgrounds, and levels of competence?
Absolutely! It must be an intergenerational space, especially when we consider gender issues from a digital perspective. To put it in simple terms: knowledge arises from interaction and sharing, and the elimination of prejudices equally comes from relational practices and knowledge. However, the Casa delle Donne will not be a space only for women. It is a space for the community that identifies with values and principles of freedom, self-determination, mutual aid, respect, coexistence, and more broadly, with the principles of the Constitution and Human Rights.
5° The Casa delle Donne originates from a path of activism within the city’s associations, and much of contemporary activism uses digital channels. In addition to the animation of the physical space, will there also be ongoing work on networking and online communication? Are there already projects in this regard?
What our associations have always been clear about in these four years of dialogue is that the cross-pollination of practical and theoretical expertise needed a space, a neutral space that would be a city’s asset. Our associations certainly engage in this exercise of democracy because they focus on breaking down prejudices against women and empowerment in a comprehensive way. They also do it because this effort should be and remain a cultural heritage of the Florence community.
It will be an effort rewarded by having built a legacy that not only remains available to everyone but has been constructed by multiple stakeholders with complementary, non-competitive perspectives, all with the common goal of creating a violence-free and non-oppressive habitat capable of welcoming, fostering relationships, listening, and dialogue.