General legal framework

AuthorRenga, Simonetta
2 General legal framework
2.1 Constitution
2.1.1 Constitutional ban on sex discrimination
Article 3 of the Italian Constitution p rovides the general framework for protection agai nst
discrimination. It states: ‘All citizens are equal and have equal dignity under the law,
without distinctions on grounds of sex, race, language, religion, pol itical opinions and
personal or social conditions.’ The second paragraph of Article 3 confirms the principle of
substantive equality, according to which the state is called upon to remove social and
economic obstacles which limi t the freedom and equality of citizens and prevent the full
development of the human being and the effective participation of all the workers in the
political, economic and social organisation of the country. Paragraph 2 of Article 3 provides
a constitutional basis f or different treatment aimed at the pursuit of equal opportunities
and positive action.
2.1.2 Other constitutional protection of equality between men an d women
The Constitution cont ains other a rticles pertaining to equality between men and women.
Article 37, Paragraph 1 of the Constitution states that a female worker shall have the same
rights and, in the case of equal work, the same remuneration as a male worker. Article 37
also lays down certain working conditions for women , such as allowing them to fulfil their
essential family functions and granting adequate protection to the mot her and the child.
Article 51 of the Constitution lays down the principle of equality between men and women
as regards eligibility for public office and for elected positions. It also provides that the
Republic shall promote equal opportunities for men and women.
Article 117 states that ‘regional laws shall remove all obstacles which prevent the full
equality of men and women in s ocial, cultural and economic life, and shall promote equal
access of men and women to elective office.’
2.2 Equal treatment legislation
Our country has specific equal treatm ent legislation. Legislative interventions during the
last 20 years have resulted, on the whole, in an effective implementat ion of EU directives
on gender discrimination in Italy and, sometimes, domestic legislation has gone even
further than EU law.
Decree No. 198/2006, a consolidating act called the Code of Equal Opportunities between
Men and Women (the Equal Opportunities Code), contains all anti-discriminatory
provisions relating to gender which were issued to implement EU directives or which were
already in conformity therewith. It combined all the provisions on gender discrimination
and equal opportunities in all civil, political, social and economic fi elds, including working
relationships. The Equal Opportunities Code has been amended on several occasions ,
including by Decree No. 5 of 25 January 2010, wh ich transposed Recast Directive
Another important piece of legislation in this field is Act No. 53/2000 on sustaining
motherhood and fatherhood, time for care and for vocational training, and coordination of
hours in the town’s public services (and its subsequent amendments) . Also important is
Decree No. 151/2001 on the protection of motherhood and fatherhood , which includes all
rules on pregnancy, maternity, paternity, parental leave and leave related to work-life
balance, also implementing Directives 2006/54 and 2010/18.

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