Laura Balbo

Laura Balbo (born Padua, 30 November 1933) is an Italian sociologist and politician.

Laura Balbo
Roma Laura Balbo casa delle Donne 1.jpg
Laura Balbo at International Women's House, Rome in 2016
Minister for Equal Opportunities
In office
21 October 1998 – 25 April 2000
Prime MinisterMassimo D'Alema
Preceded byAnna Finocchiaro
Succeeded byKatia Bellillo
Personal details
Born (1933-11-30) November 30, 1933 (age 86)
Padua, Italy
Political partyIndependent Left, Federation of the Greens
Alma materUniversity of Padua
OccupationSociologist and politician

Academic careerEdit

Balbo graduated from the University of Padua in 1956 with a degree in sociology.[1] She then went to the University of California, Berkeley as a Fulbright Scholar, returned to Italy and taught sociology at the University of Milan. She was appointed Professor at the University in 1968 and was later Dean of the Faculty of Humanities at the University of Ferrara.

Her work covers racism, urbanization, family policies and the welfare state. She has a particular interest in women in society and coined the term double presence (Italian: doppia presenza) to describe the way that women have a responsibility to both private, family life and the public world of work.[2]

She was Senior Fulbright Fellow at the Center for European Studies at Harvard University, Visiting Scholar at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study (1963-1965) and Visiting Associate Professor at the University of California, Berkeley and Santa Cruz (1980).[1]

Political careerEdit

Balbo took leave from her university career and ran for parliament, gaining her first seat in 1983.[3] She remained in parliament until 1992 as an independent and later as part of Sinistra indipendente (the Independent Left). She subsequently joined Verdi (the Greens).

She was asked by Massimo D'Alema to take on the role of Minister for Equal Opportunities from 1998 to 2000.[3] She instigated efforts to expand the remit of equal opportunities to encompass discrimination on the basis of race and sexual orientation discrimination. For the first time in Italy, the issue of sexual orientation became the subject of a specific assignment in the Ministry, in the person of Franco Grillini. She also worked to strengthen women's representation in politics and improve female employment, including organising the first national conference on female employment in Naples in January 2000, opened by President Carlo Azeglio Ciampi. Between 2000 and 2001, she was a special advisor to the Prime Minister on issues of discrimination and racism.[1]


Her publications include:

  • Balbo, L. (1976). Stato di famiglia. Bisogni, privato, collettivo (in Italian). Milan: Etas.
  • Balbo, L.; Siebert-Zahar, R. (1979). Interferenze. Lo Stato, la vita familiare, la vita privata (in Italian). Milan: Feltrinelli.
  • Balbo, L. (1987). Time to care. Politiche del tempo e diritti quotidian (in Italian). Milan: Angeli.
  • Balbo, L.; Manconi, L. (1990). I razzismi possibili (in Italian). Milan: Feltrinelli.
  • Balbo, L. (1991). Tempi di vita. Studi e proposte per cambiarli' (in Italian). Milan: Feltrinelli.
  • Balbo, L.; Manconi, L. (1992). I razzismi reali (in Italian). Milan: Feltrinelli.
  • Balbo, L.; Manconi, L. (1993). Razzismi. Un vocabolario (in Italian). Milan: Feltrinelli.
  • Balbo, L. (2002). Riflessioni in-attuali di una ex ministro. Pensare la politica anche sociologicamente (in Italian). Soveria Mannelli: Rubbettino.
  • Balbo, L. (2008). In che razza di società vivremo? L'Europa, i razzismi, il futuro (in Italian). Milan: B. Mondadori.
  • Balbo, L. (2008). Il lavoro e la cura. Imparare a cambiare (in Italian). Torino: Einaudi.
  • Balbo, L.; Ruzzo, C. (2014). "Italian Populism and the Trajectories of Two Leaders: Silvio Berlusconi and Umberto Bossi". In Wodak; Khosravinik, Majid; Mral, Brigitte (eds.). Right-Wing Populism in Europe: Politics and Discourse. London: Bloomsbury.

Other ActivitiesEdit

Balbo was president of the Associazione Italiana di Sociologia (1998-2001). She has worked as a consultant for the European Office of the World Health Organization in Copenhagen and UNESCO, led the Association Italia-Razzismo and chaired the International Association for the Study of Racism (IASR), based in Amsterdam.[3]


  1. ^ a b c Chiaretti, Giuliana (2017). "Laura Balbo". Enciclopedia delle Donne. Retrieved 27 March 2017.
  2. ^ Balbo, Laura (1978). "La doppia presenza". Inchiesta. 32: 3–11.
  3. ^ a b c "About Laura Balbo". Open Democracy. 2011. Retrieved 27 March 2017.