In her rapid rise through Italian politics, Giorgia Meloni has repeatedly shattered the glass ceiling and has now become the first woman premier in the still staunchly patriarchal country.
But many women do not consider the 45-year-old an ally, pointing to her advocacy of traditional family values, including her opposition to abortion, and what they see as her failure to challenge the social status quo.
“All things considered it’s a positive thing that for the first time it’s a woman” leading the government, said Giorgia Serughetti, a professor of political philosophy at the University of Milano-Bicocca who focuses on gender and politics.
“But from there to say this is a step forward for women is another thing,” she told AFP.
Meloni’s post-fascist Brothers of Italy party won the largest share of votes among women in September elections, in which she played heavily on her own personal brand.
“I am Giorgia, I am a woman, I am a mother, I am Italian, I am Christian,” Meloni said at a 2019 rally. The word wife did not feature, as she is not married to her partner, the father of her young daughter.
Meloni has “never played the women’s card” in a Catholic-majority country where there is “widespread hostility to feminism”, the expert said.