Missing voices: The absence of women from Italy’s COVID-19 pandemic response

Priola, Vincenza and Pecis, Lara (2020). Missing voices: The absence of women from Italy’s COVID-19 pandemic response. Gender in Management: An International Journal, 35(7/8) pp. 619–627.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1108/GM-07-2020-0218


This article explores the role of Italian women in society and at work during the pandemic. Specifically, it analyses Italian women’s positioning in the work context and in the leadership coordinating the national response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Inspired by feminist thinking addressing recent debates on women’s livelihoods at the time of Covid-19, the article focuses on Italy’s gendered response to the pandemic and its exclusion of women from decision-making roles in the management of the pandemic and the subsequent post-pandemic socio-economic recovery. Drawing on recent studies and media contributions it provides a thought-provoking analysis embedded in the country’s history and culture.

Despite their high involvement in the daily management of the pandemic, as key workers and family carers, Italian women’s voices have remained unheard and concealed, even in face of movements towards their recognition (#DateciVoce). We trace this lack of inclusion in the sedimented gender inequalities characteristic of the Italian socio-political-economic context, combined with the effects of Covid-19. We suggest that the country needs a long overdue and radical shift towards the centring of women and their contributions in work and society.

The article offers insights into the gendered pandemic response of one of the first and worst affected countries. It specifically addresses women’s continued marginalisation in the political arena vis-à-vis their key role in supporting the country’s economy.

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