Landmark of Italian feminism risks closing

The International House of Women in Rome is in danger of closing down: the city has revoked the concession of the institution's premises, therefore compromising the existence of a political and cultural project that is more needed than ever.

Ingrid Colanicchia
Ingrid Colanicchia MicroMega, Italy
Source: MicroMega
Landmark of Italian feminism risks closing - NewsMavens
International House of Women. Facebook

Why this story matters:

The first thing I thought of when, in November of last year, I learned that the International House of Women in Rome was at risk of closing -- and it is very much at risk of closing -- first seemed unrelated to the matter at hand.

I thought of the meticulous work carried out by the Jewish National Fund to erase Palestinian villages (and their memory) by planting endless rows of trees where the settlements had stood before the ethnic cleansing of 1948.

The real mission of the Jewish National Fund was not to "make the desert bloom" but to hide the visible remains of Palestine. The Palestinians have not forgotten. But visitors unaware of the past will now be deprived of the opportunity to discover this history.

Similarly, the International Women's House, is a historic place that bears witness of the struggle and battles of women in this country.

It is a historic place for the Roman and Italian feminist movement. Closing it will not only impoverish the city's opportunities, it will also impoverish the city's and the country's memory.

Details from the story:

  • In 1987, the Roman Feminist Movement, following its eviction from the Women's House in Via del Governo Vecchio, occupied part of the Palazzo del Buon Pastore in Trastevere.That building had been destined to social activities in 1983, with particular regard to women, but was still unoccupied.
  • Then began a long negotiation process with the city of Rome so that the building would be renovated and officially handed over to the association.
  • In 1992, the International House of Women Project was finally approved by the city of Rome.
  • Since then, the International House of Women -- which hosts dozens of feminist associations and cooperatives that deal with health, work, figthing violence against women, etc. -- has been a cultural, social and political hub for the 30,000 women that visit it yearly and use its services.
  • In 2017 the municipal administration claimed that the International House of Women retroactively owed the city around 800,000 euros in rent -- without taking into consideration the value of the services offered throughout the years and the expenses incurred while maintaining the property.
  • The pleas of well-known personalities and citizens went unheard, and so did payback plans suggested by the House of Women.
  • In August the city decided to revoke the concession of the premises.
  • The board of the House of Women announced their intention to oppose the decision.

Project #Femfacts co-financed by European Commission Directorate-General for Communications Networks, Content and Technology as part of the Pilot Project – Media Literacy For All

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NewsMavens is a media start-up within Gazeta Wyborcza, Poland's largest liberal broadsheet published by Agora S.A. NewsMavens is currently financed by Gazeta Wyborcza and Google DNI Fund.
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