In the post-war years, during the height of the Cold War with its stark, polarised politics, Italian women failed to rebuild autonomous political organisations, instead operating politically mainly under party banners. Although one looked to the Vatican and the other to Moscow, there were many similarities in the approach of the two main parties, the Christian Democrat Party (DC) and the Communist Party (PCI), to the mobilisation of women and to ideas about gender. Both embraced female suffrage and created mass women’s organisations. Both emphasised women’s maternal role, had quite ‘traditional’ ideas about the private sphere and presented themselves as defenders of the family. They did, of course, differ on some questions but there was enough common ground for women from both parties to work together on legislative reform. The extent of their co-operation, however, was limited by the rapid collapse of Resistance cross-party unity.
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