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Women and politics

· ​The editorial ·

Giuseppe Sartorio, Allegory of Italy in the frieze of the Chamber of Deputies in Rome

Women and politics – and in particular women who are both Catholic and political – is the subject of this issue which thus analyses politics, religion and women in their reciprocal relationships. As always when we extend our gaze to different temporal and spacial contexts the picture that emerges is blurred and nuanced. The most homogenous element is the great interest that women have in politics and, further, the fact that the religious factor, far from weakening this interest, if anything motivates and increases it. This can also be seen in the essay devoted to a non-Christian experience, the article on Morocco, in which emphasis is given to the emergence of a current of female political commitment aiming to reconcile the affirmation of women’s rights with the possibility of not giving up religion in favour of politics. Of great interest too is what we learn from the article about Italy, and more precisely about the women elected to the Constituent Assembly for the broad commitment to women’s rights which brought Catholic, Socialist and Communist women together; in fact these women saw themselves as women who do politics on behalf of women rather than as exponents of political parties even bitterly opposed to one another. The French case takes us back to the Middle Ages, before women were banned from succession to the throne in the 12th century, and to women armed with political power, from princesses to abbesses. The life of Hildegard Burjan, a German Jewish woman who converted to Catholicism, the only woman elected to the Austrian Parliament in 1918, who was deeply committed socially and was beatified in 2012, also questions us on the part that changing her religion played on the political paths she took. As the experience of Catholic women in the United States also shows, the attention of all these women – or at least of most of them – was focused on the weakest and most under-represented class of humanity, almost as ifwomen’s way of doing politics was in itself different from that of men. Yet this difference seems to diminish when the female presence in politics is strengthened and normalized and seems rather to belong to those phases in which it is still a new and disturbing element, a hope of change that is difficult to bring about. (anna foa

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