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5 Italian Women Changing Contemporary Italy

Women can change the world. Lady Gaga’s famous remark—“Some women choose to follow men, some others to follow their dreams. If you are asking yourself where to go, remember that your career will never wake up one day telling you that it doesn’t love you anymore”—reminds us all that women’s commitment to work and life can inspire the world. Meet some of today’s most powerful and inspirational Italian women.

Giorgia Meloni

(Photo credit: iltempo.it)

Giorgia Meloni,  born in Rome in 1977, is the first woman to hold the position of president of the Council of Ministers, serving as Prime Minister of Italy since October 22, 2022. A member of the Chamber of Deputies since 2006, she has led the Fratelli d’Italia (Brothers of Italy) political party since 2014 and been the president of the European Conservatives and Reformists Party since 2020. A right-wing populist and nationalist, she describes herself as a conservative and a Christian. In 2022, Forbes ranked Meloni seventh on its list of most powerful women in the world. She has a six-year-old daughter, Ginevra.

Elly Schlein

(Photo credit: edicoladelsud.it)

According to a May 2023 interview released by Vogue Italy, Elena Ethel “Elly” Schlein, born to American-Italian parents in 1985 in Lugano, Switzerland, has done to Italian politics what Måneskin has done to Italian music. In fact, Vogue continues, since her nomination as leader of the Partito Democratico on February 26, 2023 as the first woman to take this role, the 38-year-old former Europarliamentarian and ex-vice president of the Emilia-Romagna region demasculinized and brought new youth to politics and projected it onto an international arena. “A new awareness is growing in society and especially among the younger generations. There is a European mobilization that combines social justice with climate justice, also embracing dignity in employment, fighting against exploitation and the condition of the precariat, and for equality of rights, of initial opportunities,” Schlein declared in Vogue.

Samantha Cristoforetti

(Photo credit: ESA.int)

Mechanical engineer, military pilot, UNICEF ambassador, and fluent in six languages, Captain Samantha Cristoforetti was the first Italian woman to join the crews of the European Space Agency. After becoming the first Italian woman on the International Space Station (ISS )in 2014, she became the first “extraterrestrial” Tik Toker and also grabbed the record of the first European astronaut to take an hours-long “walk” outside the ISS. Her bio on the European Space Agency’s website says that Samantha, born in 1977 in Milan, is an avid reader with a passion for science and technology and an equal interest in humanities. She enjoys learning foreign languages and occasionally finds the time to hike, scuba dive, or practice yoga. Last, but not least, she’s the mother of two.

Miuccia Prada

(Photo credit: laconceria.it)

Thanks to her talent and entrepreneurial ability, the Milanese Miuccia Prada has created  one of the best-known brands in the world, combining avant-garde and innovation in fashion. One hundred ten years have passed since Miuccia’s grandfather created the first Fratelli Prada store in Milan. Today, according to the 2023 Forbes ranking, she is Italy’s second richest woman with $5.24 billion. The icon of elegance and iconic Italian cerebral chic and understatement, at age 75, Miuccia retains her  manifesto on life: “Do well the things we like to. More than business, we are interested in the ideas we believe in.”

Rita Levi Montalcini

(Photo credit: terranostranews.it)

Born in Turin in 1909 with homes in the U.S., Belgium, and Italy, Montalcini died in 2012 at age 103. She was one of the first Italian women to graduate from medical school and was just a young student at university when forced to flee Jewish persecution. For decades, Montalcini has been a strong role model for Italian girls with careers as a neurologist, academic, and senator in the Italian parliament. She won the Nobel Prize in Medicine along with Italian Renato Dulbecco in 1986, having discovered and illustrated the growth factor of nerve fibers, and she was also the first woman member of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences. Her lifelong passion was supporting international neuro-medical research.

Barbara Benzoni

 Barbara Benzoni was born in Milan and lives between Rome and Tuscany. She is devoted to USA, the land of courage and innovation. She’s Peter's super-lucky mum and Ale's wife. Cinema, art, good food and only beautiful things are the themes of her existence. With a degree in Italian literature and a Masters in Sports Management she can both enjoys books and basketball matches. In 25 years she has been organizing sport events all over the world and she’s been lucky enough to meet the greatest champs ever. Curiosity in everyday life and people are her drivers. Her personal icon is Mohammed Ali : "It's not bragging if you can back it up".