With March coming to a close, the celebration of International Women’s Day may have come and gone, but honoring women all over the world does not. Today, I welcome Liliana  Gagliardi of LG Interculture, Naples, Italy to Napoli Unplugged to share her thoughts about what women mean to her.

By Liliana Gagliardi

It has always been difficult to define women …it was yesterday, it is today! Why so? Because women all over the world are constantly and continuously committed to a process of change, transformation and development.

It is in women’s nature to give birth not only to children but to new ideas and projects. It is also in women’s nature and tradition to support and accompany men in their efforts to make changes and research for making this world a better place for living.

Women’s presence world-wide confirmed and is confirming the flexibility, the persistence and the multifaceted aspect of the female gender. It is particularly so when/if we look at the accomplishments made all over the world…a long uphill way which unifies women in their search for progress and life improvements.

Comparisons are often defective as the environment plays a key role as well as customs and traditions… but no matter the country we explore, women’s strong personality stands out and make the difference! French say: Vive la difference!

As history tells us, women have been standing behind men since the beginning of time as mothers, sisters, lovers, daughters, secretaries……and now it is apparently still the same although they are increasingly standing next to men in the life cycle.

From my Italian perspective I see major changes were made while others are still needed …the way is still long and women are still on their way. It is my understanding that in claiming for modernity, independence and leadership…few got stuck and left behind part of the uniqueness of femininity, some others got mixed up about roles within and outside the family but the majority fought for good causes and we should all be proud of it!

It is amazing how we all contributed and are contributing individually to the women’s cause…in all countries and in all ways. Step by step, courage and victories …one after the other …in a carousel of different events.

We may not even know where it  started but the spirit of innovation generated by women anywhere in the world included and extended to all.

At times important achievements may even come as a surprise to us as they took place in some countries versus others. I wonder how many people know about the first (woman) Ph.d in history. Was she from the USA? England?France?Spain?

The answer is: Italy! Yes, the first woman in history to get it was Elena Lucrezia Cornaro Piscopia in 1678 in the city of Padua.

On June 25, 1678 Elena Lucrezia Cornaro Piscopia, a young Venetian of great intelligence and talent stood before a throng of scholars and townspeople in Padua’s great cathedral as she defended two philosophical theses assigned to her by lot. So eloquent was her exposition that the doctors of the College unanimously and by viva voce  acclaimed  her Master and Doctor of Philosophy.  This unprecedented award had not been easily won. Her original request to be examined for a degree in theology was denied by ecclesiastical authorities. Only when she resubmitted her application specifying the discipline of philosophy was she permitted to stand for the examination.

Her primacy as the world’s first woman university graduate was established in 1972, through an extensive research. The 114 university centers existing in 1678 were contacted to document the date of their first woman graduate. Cornaro’s graduation preceded by 54 years the second university degree awarded to a woman.

What is a woman? The answer is “Love” for life and insight for the future.

When is a woman? The answer is: ALWAYS!

Liliana Gagliardi runs her own private international consulting business LG INTERCULTURE in Naples, Italy. As a hands-on manager, she provides all types of cross-cultural support for clients who conduct business or travel throughout Italy and need to function and experience the country at its best. Her professional activities include: cross-cultural training for managers, relocation services for high-level managers and military officers, conference management, language and research assistance as well as travel planning and all related services. She specializes in cross-cultural training and language training.