At Italy On This Day you will read about events and festivals, about important moments in history, and about the people who have made Italy the country it is today, and where they came from. Italy is a country rich in art and music, fashion and design, food and wine, sporting achievement and political diversity. Italy On This Day provides fascinating insights to help you enjoy it all the more.

Thursday, 9 March 2017

Emma Bonino – politician

Leading Radical learnt Arabic to understand Middle East press


Radical politician Emma Bonino
Radical politician Emma Bonino
Veteran politician Emma Bonino, who most recently served as Minister of Foreign Affairs in the Government of Enrico Letta, was born on this day in 1948 in Bra in Piedmont.

A leading member of the Italian Radicals, Bonino has throughout her career been an activist for reform policies and a campaigner for women's and human rights.

Bonino graduated in modern languages and literature from Bocconi University in Milan in 1972. She founded the Information Centre on Sterilisation and Abortion in 1975 and promoted the referendum that led to the legalisation of abortion in Italy.

She was first elected to the Italian Chamber of Deputies in 1976 and was re-elected six times afterwards.

In 1986 Bonino was among the promoters of a referendum against nuclear energy, which led to the rejection of a civil nuclear energy programme in Italy.

Emma Bonino meets British Foreign Secretary William  Hague in 2013 during her time as Minister of Foreign Affairs
Emma Bonino meets British Foreign Secretary William
Hague in 2013 during her time as Minister of Foreign Affairs
She was appointed minister for international trade in the cabinet of Romano Prodi in 2006 but resigned her post in 2008 after being elected a vice president of the Senate. She had previously been elected to a seat in the Senate on the list of the Democratic party for the Piedmont Constituency.

Bonino was elected to the European parliament in 1979 and re-elected twice afterwards. Along with the late Marco Pannella, another Radical politician, Bonino has battled for civil rights, individual liberty, and sexual and religious freedom.

She has particularly fought for an end to capital punishment, female genital mutilation and world hunger.

In 2001 Bonino moved to Cairo to learn Arabic and in 2003 she started a daily review of the Arabic press on Radical Radio. She is able to follow the Al Jazeera broadcasts and read the main Middle East daily newspapers. Bonino is a Board member of the Arab Democracy Foundation and has become an authoritative expert and commentator on problems in the Middle East.

Emma Bonino with Socialist President Sandro Pertini on the March for Peace in Rome in 1985
Emma Bonino with Socialist President Sandro Pertini
on the March for Peace in Rome in 1985
In 2004 she organised the first conference on democracy and human rights ever held in the Arab world.

Among awards she has received for protecting human rights are the North-South prize, the Open Society Prize, the Prix Femmes d’Europe and the America Award. She was named European of the Year in 1996.

Bonino is a godmother to Countess Luana, the elder daughter of her friends, the late Prince Friso and Princess Mabel of Orange-Nassau.

The Corso Cottolengo in Bra, looking towards Piazza Caduti per la Libertà and the church of Andrea Apostolo
The Corso Cottolengo in Bra, looking towards Piazza
Caduti per la Libertà and the church of Andrea Apostolo
Travel tip:

The town of Bra, where Emma Bonino was born, is in the province of Cuneo in Piedmont, 50 km (31 miles) south of Turin. The Slow Food movement was founded in Bra in 1989 and every two years, Cheese, the most important international event devoted to high quality cheese, is held in Bra. A few kilometres away from Bra in the town of Pollenzo, the University of Gastronomic Sciences was founded in 2004, the first university in the world entirely dedicated to the culture of food.

Hotels in Bra from Hotels.com


Travel Tip:

Bocconi University in Milan, where Emma Bonino studied modern languages and literature, is a prestigious, private university founded in 1902 by Ferdinando Bocconi. The first Italian University to grant a degree in economics, Bocconi is located in Via Roberto Sarfatti, south of Milan city centre and not far from the Navigli district.

Hotels in Milan from Expedia

More reading:


How anti-Fascist politician Sandro Pertini became the people's President

Enrico Berlinguer - the politician who gave Italian Communists political respectability

The growing popularity of comedian-turned-activist Beppe Grillo

Also on this day:


1908: The founding of football club Internazionale

(Picture credits: Bra by Davide Papalini via Wikimedia Commons)

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