After World War II, following very important fights, we obtained a series of fundamental rights- from the right to health to the right to abortion, from the right to vote to the right to work. Nowadays people tend to take them for granted, perhaps because they are unaware of the obstacles that had to be overcome to achieve them. It’s essential to have knowledge of the victories and the defeats of our ideals in order to immediately see any risk to one’s cultural values. The following are some considerations by Luigi Manconi, the Founder and President of the A Buon Diritto (Rightly so) non-profit association.
Health: what objectives do we need to reaffirm the right to health?
The Italian healthcare- similarly to other sectors- went through a grotesque journey where, after the fair excitement that accompanied the institution of the National Healthcare Service, the focus shifted onto highlighting its limits and shortcomings. The system was oriented towards limiting the public sector to benefit the private sector. However, the outbreak of the pandemic made us face the flaw of this plan and regret not having a public healthcare system that guarantees the protection of public health, which the private counterpart can’t ensure. The pandemic we are going through highlighted how fragile the system based on the integration of public/private sectors really is. In Lombardy, right where this system was thought to have found its maximum efficiency, it actually tuned out to be very weak and unable to guarantee the integration between the public and the private sectors. This was the demonstration that enhancing the private sector inevitably leads to devaluing and weakening the public one, with the consequences that we all saw, especially in terms of local medical services. Therefore that’s where we should restart from, being very careful and investing significant resources, otherwise future emergencies will catch us completely unprepared.
Migrants: how do we correct the direction towards protecting fundamental human rights?
We need to start with thinking about migrants as people. It seems obvious but this right is really not established. In the best-case scenario the migrants are seen as workforce- I say “best-case” because then at least you would consider the migrants’ economic value and would therefore put policies in place to allow their integration. Considering migrants as subjects that contribute to the national wealth makes sense if these workers will be benefitting from all the rights that come with citizenship and not just those relative to their role of producers/workers. It’s a difficult process but these two passages are essential to acknowledge the migrant’s potential role of citizen.
Young people: how can we reduce the inequalities that affect individual development?
In order to reduce inequalities you need to start off with equal conditions in the first place. Guaranteeing equal starting conditions depends on the strength, the vitality and the cleverness of public schools. The pandemic was unforgiving even in this regard; it emphasised the weaknesses of a system that was unable to adapt well throughout the territory, unable to face difficult conditions, unable to safeguard the most vulnerable and unable to guarantee the basic conditions for development. Remote teaching and the lack of teaching assistants also demonstrated how the Italian public school system has been getting weaker over the past decades. We need to rebuild starting from there.
What achievements would you say are most at risk?
I would say gender inequality, to a certain extent, because the presence of important socio-economic crises puts under strain the victories that we struggled the most to obtain. The shortage of resources and jobs strongly risks recreating old conditions of high gender inequality, starting from the job market.