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​‘Now that we know’: an anti-violence project of ACLI (but internal parity is a long way off)

· The voices of women ·

The determination of Agnese Ranghelli, national director of Coordinamento Donne [women’s coordination]

“In my professional commitment strength has been a very useful gift, for example, in treating subjects such as violence againstwomen. I have realized that speaking of this in places where men predominate is far from easy. But as women of the Christian Associations of Italian Workers (ACLI) we could not stand in the side-lines merely watching: we have started an awareness campaign, developing an experimental project in the context of community service aiming for knowledge of this phenomenon”. These are the words of Agnese Ranghelli, a leading lightin the Christian Associations of Italian Workers, and national director of Coordinamento Donne. “The project is called ‘Now that we know...’ and was initiated in 2017 in 10 cities (Mantua, Bologna, Pescara, Rome, Savona, Ascoli Piceno, Perugia, Salerno, Naples and Catania); in 2020 it will be extended to other centres. The young people who carry out community service in ACLI can choose to take part in these awareness campaigns, telling the users about them and distributing informative material”. Anindicationof how the presence of women in the organization has grown is that it has now “achieved the registration of almost 50 per cent of the women enrolled”. Nevertheless, Ranghelli emphasizes, “this wasn’t enough to change the balance at the level of senior positions, nor to make any profound renewal of the thinking and practices within the association”. The role of women remains an open question. “My path in the association began at a special moment in my life with the loss of my stillyoung father. It was at the end of the 1980s, I was 19 years old, I took part in a project promoted by the circle of my province and I began to frequent this circle. I subsequently took part in the formation courses and it wasfrom this that my progress towards direction began. However, there are not many women in the places where decisions are made. Out of 20 regions there are only two womenpresidents (Friuli, Venezia Giulia, and Valle D’Aosta), while out of 105 provinces there are only 18 women presidents. We are present abroad in 23 countries, with the welfare service but in only three are women presidents. And in the ‘War Room’ at the national headquarters, out of 14 members only two are women: the undersigned and her colleague who has been assigned to Formation and Culture”. This is a presence attained step by step, which, Ranghelli recalls, citing the founder, Achille Grandi, still has “an important task” to carry out. “The crucial issues, from work to welfare, from the family to Christian life, are interwoven with a process of gradual awareness and with the promulgation of equal opportunities, of reciprocity between women and men ACLI members. It is certain that without our presence the organization would certainly not be the same thing”. Ranghelli emphasizes that the stamp of ACLI has from the outset been “markedly masculine, like the society in which the associations were situated”. The challenge is therefore to contribute to changing these conditions. “The women of ACLI are a living part of the Church and are called, in the association and in the Church, to carry out a lofty service, without subordination or feelings of inferiority, supported by the Fortitude of which they know they are thesalt, the leaven and thelight”. 

Tullia Fabiani

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Nov. 18, 2019

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