Associazione Orlando was founded in 1979 by feminist researchers and activists in Bologna. Seeking to build a stable organizational base, Orlando built a substantial infrastructure and initiated programs aimed at documenting, researching on and promoting women’s actions, theories, arts and literature, political presence in public life. Orlando was formed to combine research with political activism by building a public institution run by women for women, that can preserve women’s cultural productions and research; collect and share documents and resources about women and cultural production; establish political and cultural networks of various kinds among women at the local, national, and global levels; and rethink the relationship between personal life and political activity.
Associazione Orlando manages the The Italian Women’s Library as part of Women’s Documentation, Research and Initiative Centre, via a contractual agreement with Municipal Council of Bologna. The Italian Women’s Library is today the principal Italian collection specialized in women’s culture, gender and feminist studies. The Library has a collection of 40.000 books, 35.000 of which are already included in the SBN-National Library System Catalogue, and 495 periodicals, 50 of which currently published. The Italian Women’s Library is the Italian partner of the Resource & Documentation Centre based at the European Institute for Gender Equality, cooperating with EIGE at the consolidation of an European source of gender equality knowledge. The Association owns a technological infrastructure (service provider and portal: www.women.it), is active in gender policies at local, national and international levels, is member of several international and national networks, both academic and grass rooted in the field of women’s, gender and feminist studies.
The Association has implemented actions of peace-mediation and support of women in civil society in conflict areas (Bosnia, Kosovo, Israeli/Palestine). Its action fields are research, teaching, counselling and political initiative. Its Training Sector has worked in LLL, Higher education (through cooperation with the Bologna University), courses for specific targets. Associazione Orlando and the Women´s Documentation Center (Italian Women Library and Historical Archive), has for many years been actively cooperating with the University of Bologna and GEMMA in promoting Women´s and Gender Studies, supporting students and researchers and offering courses and training at different levels. It provides books and bibliography to GEMMA students and organizes educational internships, as well as networking opportunities.