An Italian lawmaker who fought for a rule so that women can be allowed to nurse their babies during a parliamentary session has now become the first woman to do just that.
Bipartisan applause broke out on Wednesday when Gilda Sportiello, a member of the lower Chamber of Deputies, nursed her 2-month-old son during a legislative vote. In the previous legislature, Sportiello had successfully pushed for a rule to be passed by the chamber’s rules committee to allow women to participate in voting and debates while nursing their children until their babies are 12 months old.
She and baby Federico’s father, Riccardo Ricciardi, are both lawmakers from the populist 5-Star Movement.
La Repubblica daily quoted Sportiello as saying that she hopes her pioneering act will inspire all workplaces in Italy to make it easier for working mothers to nurse their infants if they want to while on the job.
“From today on, if the highest Italian institutions allow workers to nurse at their workplace, then no woman, in any profession, can be denied this right,” Sportiello said.
“No mamma must be forced to interrupt nursing to return to work, no women should be denied this possibility,” she said.
While she nursed Federico, Sportiello took a seat in the chamber’s back row, and leaned forward to push a button to indicate her vote on various motions being decided.
In Italy, it’s not rare to see women nurse their babies while on trains, in airport waiting rooms and other public places.