New Prato:
Innovation insight

Caterina Arciprete

Every month Città di Prato tells the stories and experiences of researchers from the Pin, Prato University Campus. Men and women who produce knowledge and innovate.

Caterina Arciprete, born in 1986, PhD in Development Economics from the University of Florence and a visiting from the University of Oxford.
In Prato since 2015, with the team of the Arco Laboratory, she has been working on international development and cooperation projects. Her main research interests concern disability, gender and child poverty.
Since 2018, Caterina has been responsible for introducing gender mainstreaming into the program for strengthening the skills of local authorities implemented by UNDP and the Ministry of Interior of Algeria.
Here's what she told us:

My name is Caterina, I was born in Naples in 1986. When I was very young I moved to Bari, the city where I grew up.

(Q): When did you understand what you wanted to do when you grew up?

(A): I actually got there by step. I knew I liked languages, I wanted to travel and having had a volunteer experience with Emergency, I ideally wanted to do something that would improve people's lives. The real revelation came when, during my studies at the faculty of economics, I approached teachings such as political economics and development economics. At that moment I started to imagine myself in the future.

This passion for development economics brought you to Florence.
That's right. Once I returned to Italy after the Erasmus in Brussels, my Florentine adventure began. I remember that I googled: "Italy Developments Economics" and found that there was a very good course in Florence.
It was what I wanted to do and I managed to do it in a very stimulating environment both for teachers and colleagues.
At the same time, I started to create an important network of contacts with the world of associations, increasingly interested in the topic of smart cities. University interests have also become life interests.

After the Master's degree you decided to continue with a PhD.
I have always loved studying and I have always had the desire to "learn more", but I thought that the PhD was not for me.It was my thesis advisor and my father who encouraged me. I still thank them because it was actually a very educational experience.

Tell us about your experience in Oxford.
When the letter that told me that my application for the visit to Oxford was accepted was a dream during my PhD. I arrived in a place where the value given to the study was incredible. In a world where there is sometimes a degradation of culture and research, the feeling of living in a city devoted to the production of knowledge was a moment of true inspiration for me. There was only one problem.

What problem?
I had just got engaged and wanted to go back to Italy!

In the picture: Focus group in the town of Kaolak, Senegal

Well, the reasons of the heart are also important! Back in Italy you started to approach the Arco Laboratory.
Yes, and Arco immediately struck me two things. The first is that it was created by professors and former students (in particular Enrico Testi and Marco Bellucci with Professor Biggeri) and this birth is truly particular in the academic world which is usually more "hierarchical". Commitment to putting people on the same level, regardless of roles, is an important value for us and accompanies us in everything we do.
The second is the idea of doing action research. This means leaving the university walls and working on projects/research that do not aim only at publication, but at changes in society.

The Arco laboratory is an important reality on an Italian level and certainly one of the leading PIN laboratories. Today you are twenty people organized in 5 different units. Every year your team carries out international development and cooperation actions all over the world.Do you want to tell us about the project that has most contributed to your personal and professional growth?
Definitely the experience in Senegal during which I worked on a gender budget project.Senegal has been making a gender mainstreaming strategy for several years to improve women's health conditions.
The Italian agency for cooperation and development supports this type of action and has funded various projects. My team and I took care of the gender budgeting experimentation in a town called Kaolak.

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