“Middle age is a period full of changes for the youngest: educating them in self-awareness and mutual respect and supporting them in developing critical thinking towards stereotypes, which are the basis of gender discrimination, means taking a step forward on the road to a more equitable and inclusive future for all”. This is how Maria Giovanna Labbate, CEO of Gedeon Richter Italia, opened the event promoted in Milan by the pharmaceutical company and entitled “The Middle Ages – Childhood and pre-adolescence, a fertile ground for cultivating female empowerment”, aimed at identifying the most effective tools to talk to boys and girls about fundamental issues of pre-adolescence such as education in sexuality and affectivity and help them break down gender prejudices to become more inclusive adults.
“As a pharmaceutical company that has always stood by women – continues Labbate – we care about female empowerment and culture&education which are the two pillars on which ‘GRITness4ALL’, our social responsibility programme, is based. We take care of health and health also passes through a greater knowledge and awareness of the sexual and reproductive sphere, from an early age”. At the opening of the event, the illustrated book ‘L’Età di mezzo’ was presented, born from the collaboration with the ‘BET SHE CAN’ Foundation, the Carthusia publishing house and with the contribution of Gedeon Richter Italia: a tangible tool for dialogue with boys and girls. The issue of sex education in schools – reports a company note – is highly topical, also given the most recent recommendations by UNESCO towards the adoption of a holistic approach. The World Health Organization (WHO) itself has published a report on the positive impacts of sex education on the incidence of unwanted pregnancies, sexually transmitted diseases, episodes of sexual abuse and discrimination based on sexual orientation.
The experts present at the meeting, Vincenzina Bruni, professor of obstetrics and gynecology and honorary president of Sigia (Italian Society of Childhood and Adolescent Gynecology) and Metella Dei, specialist in gynecology and obstetrics and endocrinology, recalled how, until a few years ago, gynecology of childhood and adolescence was a borderland, although gynecological problems can already begin at a very young age. Gynecological specialists and paediatricians must combine skills to accompany the development and awareness of these little patients who, as they grow up, will begin to face problems related to their genital system, fertility, menstruation. The changes in adolescence do not only concern one’s body: a new way of seeing the world is added in parallel to the transformation of one’s appearance, the gaze of others changes and new relational and emotional dynamics are added. The main challenge for parents and educators who accompany them in their growth is that of listening.
In addition to Samanta Picciaiola, president of the Orlando Association and promoter of Tabooteca – a project designed to support sex education courses carried out by teachers, health professionals and counseling centers through the loan of board games and teaching tools – also Irene Facheris was present at the event , trainer, creator and president of Bossy, a non-profit association that deals with the dissemination of issues such as gender stereotypes, sexism, feminism and LGBTQ+ rights. Collaboration between educators and families is essential – the note recalls – we need to overcome an ‘adult-centric’ vision of children and adequately train teachers so that they themselves are not victims of stereotypes. The interest on the part of the youngest does not only arise from the type of topic dealt with, but also from the approach: children too must be considered and treated as little people capable of understanding the proposed contents. This way they are more likely to listen and remove any stereotypes that are already ingrained.
The ‘National Fertility Study’ project, promoted by the Ministry of Health in 2018, confirms that the majority of boys and university students look for sexual and reproductive information on the internet (only 1 in 4 in the family), but almost all ( 94%) believe that schools should provide information on sexuality and reproduction. In most of the Member States of the European Union this matter is already compulsory (in Germany since 1968, in Denmark, Finland and Austria since 1970, in France since 1998) while in Italy it still remains a subject of discussion.
On the subject of digital security and the role of the school, Elena Lattuada, delegate of the Mayor of the Municipality of Milan for Equal Opportunities, expressed herself, presenting some projects of the Municipality, including the ‘Spring of Equal Opportunities’, which aims to involve women who, for their professionalism and profession, can bring to school testimonies capable of inspiring girls and boys. The idea is also to enhance lesser-known work activities, often associated with the male world, to introduce the new generations, from the earliest years, to new skills with equal opportunities.
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