But critics are not convinced her party, or likely coalition, is entirely committed to the cause of women.
Polls carried out last year show that while the majority of Italians said more should be done to reach gender equality, those numbers were considerably lower among supporters of Brothers of Italy and the League.
One campaign video for a candidate from the Forza Italia party, another coalition ally, was roundly mocked for promising a salary to women who don’t work outside the home. The party is led by Silvio Berlusconi, who, Ms. Meloni said in the interview, put her “in difficulty as a woman” with his sex scandals when she was a young minister in his government.
After decades of unfulfilled campaign promises, there is skepticism writ large that any of the parties will really champion women’s causes.
Promises about “the needs and priorities of women” — including free day care and subsidies for families — tend to vanish once it’s time to actually put measures in place, said Laura Moschini, whose organization, the Gender Interuniversity Observatory, has drafted a “handbook for good government” highlighting women’s concerns.
Those issues have discouraged women from voting, and the possibility of electing Ms. Meloni as the first female prime minister is not motivating women. Heading into the election on Sunday, polls suggest that more than a third of Italian women probably won’t vote.