«Women, and in particular their bodies, have always been told by men. We are hardly ever narrators and when I began to reflect on this aspect I decided to do something to regain possession of my voice and give back to as many women as possible theirs “.
It is this thought that has ignited in Paola Sammarro’s mind that fuse that today has turned into a concrete reality: I Calabria, an innovative space dedicated to the health and intimate well-being of women, based in Cosenza.
Thirty-six-year-old journalist, entrepreneur and communication expert, over the years Paola has investigated and worked in different ways with the world of women. Cosentina by birth, she lived for many years in Milan, before returning to her hometown with the aim of creating something for women, together with women. A choice matured on the threshold of the Covid-19 pandemic and whose realization was certainly not easy, as Paola Sammarro herself told us.
Let’s start from the beginning, what is Calabria?
«A multidisciplinary counseling center that welcomes women of all ages, from puberty to beyond menopause. Medicine, like many other fields, has a strongly patriarchal imprint and the consequence is that the sphere of female intimate well-being is studded with taboos and many gender stereotypes that prevent preventive diagnoses on some issues and completely neglect others. Furthermore, many ailments are often treated only from a medical point of view, such as menopause, forgetting that it is a step that can require psychological support and bring with it additional problems such as vaginal dryness or urinary incontinence. We believe that the aspects to be evaluated are always multiple, for this reason in the headquarters of I Calabria, which is located in Cosenza, Several professionals work, all women, specialized in our three macro areas: obstetrics-gynecology, psychology and nutrition “.
What prompted you to create this reality?
«In the last period I spent in Milan I was working for The workshop of the moon, a shop dedicated to women’s intimate well-being, created with the aim of raising awareness of still little-known issues and products relating to menstruation, menopause, perineum and sexuality. During that experience I realized how many women did not know many physiological mechanisms of their body and above all were not aware of deserving more, in the sexual field and beyond. This awareness pushed me to try to change things so I packed my bags and at the end of 2019 I returned to Cosenza with the idea of building a place where all women, including my teenage daughter, could make their voices heard without fear. nor embarrassments “.
An important challenge, even more so if carried out in a land that is not as simple as
the Calabrian one …
“Undoubtedly, but I never thought of undertaking it elsewhere. I wanted to do something here, in a region where there are not many organized medical facilities and women’s health, both from a practical and cultural point of view, is relegated to the sphere of motherhood.. Calabria, but I would say all of Italy, is strongly male chauvinist and patriarchal. Most of the girls of my age only take care of the family and this would not be wrong if it were not that many do it not by choice but to adhere to a certain social recognition. In those cases, the concept of intimacy is mainly linked to that of procreation and leaves out all other aspects of sexuality and intimate health, equally important. My ambition is to help women break free from certain patterns, regain possession of their bodies and reclaim their rights “.
Why did you choose this name?
“Because I got tired, every time I reported a disservice, of being answered”This is how it works here and nothing will ever change”. I Calabria means that Calabria is us inhabitants and it is not up to anyone else to improve it. I am fundamentally convinced that my land is healthy and ready for a change of pace and I am proud of the team of Calabrian women who, like me, have chosen to work here. As well as two special men, Innocenzo Russo e Marco Le Pera from Assocalabria, which helped me take the first steps when no one believed in this idea and the Covid-19 pandemic was definitely complicating the journey.
In some moments I feared not to make it or thought of resizing the project but they have always encouraged me and the fact that the first hand was actually two men confirms more and more a thesis in which I believe a lot, namely that the feminist revolution takes place together and that it should not be reduced to a gender struggle “.
Who can knock on the door of I Calabria?
«Anyone who has a doubt to clarify concerning our areas of reference. In addition to one great attention towards menopause we deal a lot with every aspect of puberty, from sex education to emotional education, with a space where every girl can come even just for explanations on menstruation and how to put on a sanitary pad. They are not missing psychological listening groups it’s a’area dedicated to conscious nutrition, which starts first of all from the fight against fat phobia and from the promotion of proper nutrition at every stage of life. In Calabria there is no specific center for eating disorders, while with us a multidisciplinary team is ready to welcome anyone who suffers from it. Finally, a psychological first aid, to which any woman can turn if she has suffered a trauma and needs to talk about it or to be accompanied by the carabinieri or to the emergency room “.
I Calabria however it is also a place dedicated to culture …
«Absolutely yes, parallel to the center it was born I Calabria magazine, an online and printed newspaper in which the themes dear to our project are addressed and through which we will organize thematic meetings, book presentations, workshops and much more. Furthermore, inside the structure there will also be a shop de La Bottega della Luna ».
To know the professionals who will work in I Calabria and all their initiatives www.iocalabriacosenza.it