A fertility campaign was announced in September to encourage Italians to be parents and increase Italy’s birth rate, which is among the lowest in Europe. The campaign was an initiative from the Health Minister and was heavily criticized by youngs and adults arguing the current economic situation is not optimal for having children.

Feminists condemn the campaign as a message that features women as baby factories. Health Minister Beatrice Lorenzin announced that September 22 would be Italy’s first “Fertility Day.” Several state-sponsored events were held in Rome, Bologna, Catania and Padova to encourage couples to start a family. The events offered information about family planning and alternatives to reach parenthood.

Italy, pregnancy
Text on poster: “Beauty has no age. But fertility does.” Image credit: The Huffington Post.

According to the Health Ministry website, the fertility campaign is intended to remind Italians of the dangers of falling birthrates and illnesses that could be prevented by having kids.

The campaign also seeks to raise awareness of medications available for those adults that have not been able to conceive and let people know about the financial incentives for parenthood.

Italians criticized 12 promotional images issued on Friday as part of the campaign. Author Roberto Saviano described them as an insult to those who are not able to conceive and to those who would like to become parents but do not have the money to do so.

Other posters said “Fertility is a common good” and “Male fertility is much vulnerable than you might think.” The poster most criticized by the young said “Young parents. The best way to be creative.”

‘Dimissioni in bianco’

The Huffington Post reported that a work phenomenon known as “dimissioni in bianco” makes Italian women sign undated letters of resignation to allow employers to fire them without penalties, in the case of pregnancy.

Italian women argue the paid maternity leave is not enough to maintain a family even if the pregnant woman is working and continues to do so after giving birth. Abortions are legal in Italy but the procedure can be complicated to obtain in practice, leaving women with almost no choices.

Italy, pregnancy
Young people were mad at the message because Italy’s youth unemployment rate last year was 42 percent. Image credit: The Huffington Post.

Minister Lorenzi said a new campaign will be designed after the responses this first initiative had. Even Prime Minister Matteo Renzi said on the radio that he did not know anyone who started a family because they saw an advertisement. He stated that people have children when they can get full-time jobs, afford a mortgage or find a place in a nursery close to home.

Italy’s birth rate is among the lowest in Europe. Italian women have a rate birth of 1.35 children compared to the European Union average of 1.58 and 1.81 in the United Kingdom. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) says a rate of 2.1 is required to ensure a stable population growth.

Source: The Huffington Post