Elimination of Violence Against Women Day 2021


Florence’s European Institute of Design has also installed a red bench for the victims of femicide

For the 22nd iteration of the International Day for the Elimination of the Violence Against Women, the city of Florence will hold numerous initiatives to bring this worldwide issue to the forefront on November 25 and through most of December. The event, recognized by the United Nations General Assembly since 1999, will feature readings, exhibitions and the installation of red lights and benches to consolidate the protection of women against the increasing brutality that they face.  All historic gates to Florence will also be illuminated red during the evening to bring more attention to this theme.

President of Florence’s District Council #1 (the historic center), Michele Pierguidi says that this event serves an important role in reminding the residents that this is a very topical issue which deserves more awareness. Regardless of COVID’s impact, femicide has been on the rise since 2020 at an increased rate of 7.5%, with 100 victims recorded from January 1 to October 26 this year compared to the 93 women killed in 2020. The organizers wish to create an environment that can prevent violence from ever occurring and build a “strong protection network” for victims who have suffered already. 

On November 25, the Novecento museum in piazza Santa Maria Novella will host readings of works by significant female poets of the 20th century, including Anna Achmatova, Sylvia Plath, Antonia Pozzi and Anne Sexton. These recitations will be done by six actresses from the INuovi group. All of this will take place in the exhibition space of contemporary British artist Jenny Saville, whose pieces in Museo Novecento express the emotion and experiences of being a woman.  Entrance to the museum event will take place from 4 to 8 pm, with admission free for the public. 

On the same day, an exhibition titled “come eri vestita?” (how were you dressed?) will be open at the Oblate Library (via dell’Oriuolo) until December 20 which will display the story of a rape victim next to a display of the clothes they were wearing at the time of the attack. This is to raise awareness that violence has been committed against a variety of people, as well as dismantle the misconception that rape could have been avoided if less provocative clothes had been worn. 

The Uffizi is hosting the exhibition ‘Lo Sfregio’, to show through art the violence inflicted on women.  The most prominent piece displayed is a bust of Costanza Bonarelli, a marble sculpture made by Bernini which has a scar inflicted upon the work after Costanza had an affair with Luigi, the artist’s brother, which shares the space with contemporary photography.

A series of performances will be held across the various districts, or quartiere, of Florence. The kickoff is in District 1 (the city center) at 9 am on Via Faenza 103: “Your Name” is a reading regarding victims of gender violence with musical accompaniment by Shu Mei Weng and Ciro Zingone. Following this, at 3 pm, a flash mob with the aim of raising awareness of the issue, which will take place in Piazza Santa Croce. 

District 2 will hold a book presentation at 5 pm at Villa Arrivabene, which will feature “Storia e non storia di Rossella Casini – La donna che non mi hanno lasciato diventare” (The Woman i was Unable to Be) by Sabrina Sezzani, which tells the story of a young Florentine student victim of organized crime at age 24. A visual arts exhibition titled “Riflessioni – Uomini allo specchio” (Reflections – Men in the Mirror) has been organized by the Associazione Le Curandai in Via Domenico Cirillo at 4 pm. 

At the same time as this, a bench on Via Faentina 145 will be painted red to symbolize the violence against women. As the final event in District 2, a reading of Donne, pregiudizi e violenze. Oggi come ieri, a ogni latitudine e in ogni cultura la violenza sulle donne è sempre tristemente presente will be held in the Mario Luzi library (via Ugo Schiff 8) at 5:30 pm to deliver some of the most recent writings by outspoken women regarding recent acts of violence committed against them. 

Continuing with the trend started in Via Faentina, Districts 3, 4 and 5 will also have red benches painted or installed to bring more awareness to people in every part of Florence. These locations include Via Vespucci in Peretola, Pettini Burresi, Bonaparte Gardens, Viale Tanini, the park of Villa Vogel, Via Silvestro Lega, Pontignale garden, Bindolo garden and many more. 

To conclude the event, as part of the Femfestival, the “Play” concert will be held Manifattura Tabacchi two days later. This will put a spotlight on female composers from around the world. The time will be from 6:30 to 9 pm on November 27 to conclude the initiatives with a bit of flair. (nelson matos)