Between the end of August and the beginning of September, a survey on Milan was launched online: a word to women. The goal is to test the pulse of the Milanese on how they live their city and what they ask of the future administration. The themes proposed: work and smartworking, treatment times, transport, proximity services, quality of life in one’s neighborhood, perception of safety, knowledge and evaluation of the Municipality’s anti-violence network. Objective achieved since 1086 women they filled out the questionnaire: a certainly important number, even though it is a self-selected sample also with respect to the technological instrument. A cross-section of those who replied that draws a female component that characterizes Milanese society in general: it is, in fact, of female workers and pensioners. Almost 40% retired, they work as employees or are self-employed: in commerce and in the tertiary sector in 47.3% of cases; 4.6% declare themselves housewives; 2% have been unemployed especially since before the pandemic. They are educated women (secondary school diploma and degree): adult women for 45.5% between 45 and 65 years, young adults between 25 and 44 years in 16.5% of cases while 38% declare over 65 years confirming the placement of pensioners already highlighted for the job position.
Smartworking, dependent and self-employed work
They mainly live in Municipalities 3, 1, 4, followed by 7 and 6 with a good representation compared to the resident population. These are Municipalities – especially the former – which are characterized by a good presence of shares and initiatives on the territory attentive to the needs of the population. The women who answered therefore represent a socially well defined group, culturally connoted and probably sensitive to progressive values and center left. But let’s get to the content of the answers given. 50% answered the question on smartworking and, of these, a third judges it positively; 8.8% instead gave a negative evaluation and almost 10% declared that they were unable to express themselves. We recall that among the respondents there is a share equal to 15% of self-employed women for which smartworking has probably not represented a great change while for employees, with a high level of education, we can assume a qualitatively satisfactory job that, with smartworking, may have seen a further improvement, for example, linked to mobility and autonomy . However, that remains 10% that is not unbalanced: interesting, because it could represent women for whom, on the one hand, the new way of working has represented an improvement in the quality of life, linked for example to long and tiring travel times, but who at the same time, working from home, have had to face a complex family organization at the same time. This is a significant fact because it is consistent with other researches which, while underlining the positive aspect of smartworking for women, at the same time highlight the contradictions produced by the times of reconciling work and care.
Sharing the care of children, the disabled and the elderly
It seems to us that the picture just described is reproduced in the question on whether or not to share with a family member the «care alone of children, the disabled, the elderly». And indeed, l’11.8% could not share, while 30% did it: a good percentage, but certainly far from the goal desired by the world of women, especially if we take into account the type of sample. The women who answered live in neighborhoods fairly equipped with services, even if, in reality, the only truly reachable on foot concerns the school offer for the little ones (kindergarten and primary school). These are modern women, attentive to the cultural, social and aggregative initiatives of the neighborhood, which they know in 65% of cases. They consider the quality of life in their neighborhood to be on average high: the average is 7.4. Judgment that is spread equally between the different age groups and the different Municipalities of residence. Furthermore, as we know from the lifestyles of women in the most advanced European cities, this sample too favors public transport (about 22% go by metro and tram / bus) and slow mobility (20% on foot or 10% by bicycle). Mobility by age is interesting since it is the older adults (over 65) who make the most use of public transport or walk, a modality also followed by the youngest who, moreover – and as is to be expected – make good use of the bicycle.
Security and fear in the neighborhoods
And we come to the last part of the questionnaire, which goes into the issues of security, perceived and / or suffered, as well as the knowledge of the enforcement actions implemented by the municipal administration. “Do you feel safe in your neighborhood?” The answers are very different depending on whether we refer to the perception of “day” or “evening”. In the first case, almost all (97%) and of any age respond in the affirmative. The situation is different in the hypothesis of the night. Yes still prevail: probably why culture and education they allow to elaborate the themes of security and fear. But the sample splits almost in half: the no, in fact, represent 42% and it is interesting to read that the percentage changes little between the different age groups. Notable differences, however, occur between the Municipalities: more than 50% feel insecure at night in the Municipalities in order 5 and 2; while, apart from the particular case of Municipality 1 (largely the safest) in the others the percentage of sense of insecurity ranges from 36% in 6, followed by 7 and gradually by the others.
Anti-violence network and administration action
The data relating to those who claim to have been the victim of harassment, stalking, sexual violence are worrying and alarming: I’m 26% and age varies with similar percentages between 25 and 64 years. We do not know if these are acts lived in the workplace, on the street, on public transport or in the family. In any case, the value of the data itself remains. Fortunately, the share – equal to 70% – of those who claim to be “aware of the action of the anti-violence network of the Municipality of Milan for thesupport for abused women“. But there is a remaining 30% who do not know it and this misinformation is, unfortunately, widespread above all among the younger ones. And if overall theaction of the Administration is judged positively by 52.4% of those who answered, there is a 47% who does not feel like answering: and it is perhaps no coincidence that the age group between 25 and 44 is still burrowing into this non-response ( neither positive nor negative), while knowing its existence and action. Ultimately, the issue of information (and disinformation) remains relevant and this is even more serious and worrying if we consider that the sample of women who answered the questionnaire represents an educated, cultured and sensitive portion of Milanese society.
In conclusion, it can be said that with regard to the anti-violence network and support for abused women, the action of the Municipality must become more incisive and widespread; while the presence of proximity services is good, but not entirely satisfactory: the city 15 minutes it must be the concrete objective of the next few years, accompanied – as women are among the priorities to be taken care of – by more greenery and parks, more aggregation services, more widespread cultural initiatives, more cleanliness and attention to the elderly.
* Francesca Zajczyk is full professor of Urban Sociology at the University of Milan – Bicocca