UPDATE: on 25 July, the agreement with the association was officially revoked by the City council in Rome
On 17 May, the council of the city of Rome voted to evict the International Women’s House from the public building “Buon Pastore” in Rome where several organisations were working for over 30 years to create a space for dialogue and confrontation for Italian and international women on equal rights and entrepreneurship. The decision was taken due to the group’s inability to pay the onerous rent but the International Women’s House stressed that thanks to private donations which keep it alive, the activists were able to give new life to the building with innumerable services to the city and its maintenance. With the motion, the administration voted for taking back the property and banning it from other associations.
The decision was met with the strong opposition of feminist activists and the political opposition because it did not involve the table of discussion with the association, scheduled for Monday 21 May. The International Women’s House said that the motion “is allowed to liquidate the project of the International Women’s House as failed only because we cannot pay the full fee. We have already replied, challenging the inaccurate and pretentious statements of the Guerrini report, and we have repeatedly urged the reopening of the Round Table with the Council, which has been inexplicably suspended for four months”, they continue. “The attack on women’s spaces by this administration is intolerable and dangerous. The importance of the political and cultural presence of feminism and women is denied, just as the other spaces of social activity are closed“.
The European Civic Forum (ECF) condemns the decision which comes at a crucial time of closing space for citizens to self-organise and associate, especially on sensitive issues like women rights. As equal opportunities are being questioned and challenged across Europe, the motion sends another warning sign coming from a European capital. The ECF encourages everybody to show solidarity to the International House of women and sign the petition to call Rome Mayor, Virginia Raggi, to reopen the Table of discussion with the group and overturn the motion lead by her party.
Send a message of support on Twitter: #lacasasiamotutte
The translation of the petition:
“The International House of Women in Rome is not safe.
A historical place, the reference point of more than 30,000 women who visit it every year and the many associations that make it live, the meeting point, cultural and political confrontation, personal and professional growth, the archive of feminism, the site of many battles of women against discrimination and violence, is at risk.
There is still a risk of eviction. The City Council is still asking for a backlog of over 800,000 euros. Yet, the women who animate it have explained to us, to the institutional interlocutors and to all those who care about its existence, that the House has paid for all 15 years of operation, a large part of the rent and has borne the huge maintenance costs of which a historical building, such as the complex of the Buon Pastore (a palace of 1660), needs.
All this without public contributions and funding, only with self-financing, thus making this wonderful place usable for the city: open, full every day of activities and services available to women, especially those with fewer opportunities. We know that negotiations with the municipality are in progress, but they seem to us to be too slow and difficult. The administrators of the Capitol say they want to strengthen the house, which they consider a value for the city.
We believe in it. Why should we not?
It would be completely paradoxical if the first woman Mayor in the capital wanted to go down in history for closing the International Women’s House.
We feel compelled to speak because “We all are the house”. We frequent it, we see how much passion, how much work, how much effort that place requires every day to remain open and available. We would like to see a gesture of responsibility and generosity. We would like words to be followed by deeds. The House, the associations and the many women who live in it and make it usable must be made safe, must be able to continue to act and plan for the future.
To achieve this result, it would be enough to apply the laws that allow the International House to be granted a free fee, to value the social and cultural role that the House plays, to recognize the value of the work of maintenance and preservation of a cultural asset of the city and the valuable contribution of the services that women find in the House and then also restructure the debt, starting from the recognition of its real extent.
The House is also a piece of our history, of our present and future and of the city. It is one of the symbols of the battles and victories of women and helps us, with the daily commitment that takes place there, to build choices, steps that remain to be taken to overcome discrimination and inequality.
We all are the house. All, Virginia Raggi included”.
(Translated from Italian with www.deepl.com)