Baby in European Parliament
Mrs. Licia Ronzulli, a 35-year representative in the EU Parliament from Italy, took her little daughter Victoria to a vote in Strasbourg.
When Licia Ronzulli took her seven-week-old baby to work at the European parliament this week, she did not realise what a stir she would cause. Photographs of Ronzulli cradling her daughter, Vittoria, in a sling as she voted on proposals to improve women’s employment rights were broadcast around the world and published in newspapers from the US to Vietnam.
The Italian MEP has been inundated with requests for interviews ever since, and is left wondering what to do with the political energy generated by her act.
Ronzulli, a member of Silvio Berlusconi’s Il Popolo della Libertà party and a family friend of the Italian leader, said she hoped to draw attention to the difficulties experienced by working mothers.
“It’s bizarre,” she said. “We’ve been doing a lot, a lot of work in the European parliament and there was no interest in the press. Then I come with my baby and everybody wants to interview me.
“It was not a political gesture. It was first of all a maternal gesture – that I wanted to stay with my daughter as much as possible, and to remind people that there are women who do not have this opportunity [to bring their children to work], that we should do something to talk about this.”
Encouraged by the support she received from all parties, Ronzulli, 35, has called a meeting of like-minded parliamentarians next week to discuss ways to improve the lives of working mothers.
“We will do something with all the political parties together,” she said. “We will discuss some kind of directive or proposal. Maybe we will make an appeal to the European commission, with all the political parties together our message will be all the more strong.”
Ronzulli does not plan to bring Vittoria on a regular basis and said she would leave if her child began to cry: “It’s an official meeting, it’s not a creche. You can’t have everybody coming in with children who might cry or who might want to play … I’ll come when it’s possible. If I can bring her, I will. If it’s not appropriate, then I won’t.”
She offered support to the French MEP Rachida Dati, who was criticised for returning to work five days after giving birth, saying it was a personal choice. Ronzulli said individual mothers should be able to stay at home or to go back to work.
“It’s a very personal choice. A woman should be free to choose to come back after 48 hours. But if she wants to stay at home for six months, or a year, we should create the conditions to make that possible,” she said. “I came back to work after one month. But I am not an example to follow. Everyone must decide for themselves.”
Despite all the attention, this is not the first time the EU assembly has been graced with young guests. In the previous legislature Danish MEP Hanne Dahl took her baby into the chamber once – and into the weekly meetings of the conference of presidents, the male-dominated club of the parliament’s political chiefs, several times. The German MEP Hiltrud Breyer breast-fed regularly at meetings of the environment committee.