Italy’s newly launched Fertility Day is facing a social media backlash over its campaign with several people calling its ads sexist and offensive.
The country’s Health Minister Beatrice Lorenzin reportedly announced that on Sep. 22, Italy will celebrate its first Fertility Day. On that day, events sponsored by the state will be held in Rome, Bologna, Catania and Padova where the public will be offered information on family planning while encouraging parenthood.
Italy has a fertility rate of 1.35 children per woman much less than the European Union’s rate of 1.6 children per woman. According to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, a fertility rate of 2.1 is required to ensure a stable population. With aging populations and falling birth rates, Italy came up with the idea of Fertility Day to encourage its people to take up parenthood.
However, the 12 promotional images released so far as part of the campaign quickly went viral on social media for the wrong reasons.
The ads carried lines like “Fertility is a common good.” One ad showed a woman holding an hourglass and the accompanying text reading, “Beauty has no age. Fertility does.”
The ads have been slammed for being “offensive,” “sexist” and even “dangerous.” Some on social media said that the ads hurt the sentiments of those who wish to have children but can’t.
“What this campaign hides is the complete inability of the government to tackle the declining birth rate and subsequent decrease of cash flow towards the country’s already severely depleted public welfare,” Italian blogger Giulia Biasi wrote of the campaign.
“If women choose not to have children — for personal or financial reasons, or both — who is going to pay the insane amount of taxes required to keep the system working? Not the children of immigrants, who are not awarded automatic citizenship even if born and raised on Italian soil. It falls to Italian women to repopulate Italy, fulfilling their biological destiny and doing their patriotic duty,” she wrote.
Italy’s Prime Minister Matteo Renzi also spoke against the campaign reportedly saying, “I don’t know of any of my friends who had kids after they saw an advertisement. If you want to create a society that invests in its future and has children, you have to make sure the underlying conditions are there.”