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Italy’s ‘Fertility Day’ campaign provokes an angry response from women

By WITW Staff on September 2, 2016

A ‘Fertility Day’ campaign by the Italian Health Ministry, aimed at encouraging young couples to reproduce, has met with anger, disbelief and derision. The out-of-step initiative, led by Beatrice Lorenzin, will launch on September 22, with events in Rome, Bologna, Catania, and Padua, reports Barbie Latza Nadeau for The Daily Beast. Activities will include roundtables and special sessions for adolescents to learn about sexual health.

The ad campaign for Fertility Day, that has angered so many and brought accusations of being insensitive in light of the beleaguered economy, includes an image of a woman, hand on belly and holding an hourglass up to the camera, with the slogan “Beauty has no age, but fertility does.” Other ads feature storks and dripping faucets, and some are targeting just men, including one with a drooping cigarette (make of that metaphor what you will) warning about potential damage to sperm from smoking.

The campaign was motivated by Italy’s declining birthrate, but only deepens the conflicted feelings of many who find themselves at an optimal age to have children just as unemployment has skyrocketed (35 percent for under-30s.) Roberto Saviano, author and political columnist, called it “an insult to all those who are not able to conceive and those who would like to but don’t have jobs.”

Lorenzin says she is shocked by the outcry, but opponents are not backing down from what they see as government overreach, likening the campaign to regulations under Benito Mussolini’s fascist regime of the 1930s, or Margaret Atwood’s novel The Handmaid’s Tale. “It’s the stuff of dystopian novels and fascist propaganda,” wrote commentator Giulia Blasi. “Something Benito Mussolini was quite good at in times when contraception was unavailable and women did not have the right to vote, much less work outside the home.”

Read the full story at The Daily Beast.