Let’s face it, Italy isn’t the best place in the world to live if you’re a woman. I experienced it myself. But what happened yesterday was extreme even for Italy.
The hashtag #fertilityday blew up on Italian Twitter, and eventually spread outside the Boot’s borders. What’s Fertility Day? Well, it’s the approach the Ministero della Salute (Ministry of Health) has taken to combat the low birth rate in the country (1.40 births per woman). The Minster, Beatrice Lorenzin, decided to appoint the 22nd of September as Fertility Day, and for some reason using English to promote her idea. A day set aside to encourage Italians to look after their reproductive health, and to encourage them to have (more) children. But it all went very, very wrong.
These, no word of a lie, are some of the slogans that they had created to encourage Italians to reproduce.
I’ve got this from Twitter (hence the low quality), as during the day yesterday they were removed from the Fertility Day site. So, to go through them – top row, left to right:
‘Hurry up! Don’t wait for the stork!’
‘Beauty has no age. Fertility does.’
‘Young parents. The best way to be creative.’
And the bottom row:
‘Fertility is a common good’
‘Prepare a cradle for your future’
‘The constitution protects conscientious and responsible procreation’
What can you say to this apart from assorted swear words??
There are a million problems behind Italy’s low birth rate; going from the absurd insecurity young Italians face in the workplace, with internships and temporary contracts and low pay the order of the day. I could cite high rents as another factor; in Milan the average wage is 1,000 euro a month, and you’d be lucky to find a decent studio apartment even in the studenty area of the city for less than 600 euro a month. Women are more often asked in interviews if they’re married/engaged/in a long term relationship than not, and also if they have any intention of having children – and guess what, if the employer doesn’t like the answer then there’s no job for them. There’s a lack of public nurseries, the private ones are far expensive, they have the tendency to strike at a moment’s notice. I could go on.
But instead of working on improving conditions for couples who would like to start a family, the government embarks on a campaign to shame those who are childless. I read hundreds of furious comments yesterday, and the backlash is far from over. Renzi has distanced himself from the campaign, denying any previous knowledge of it, and that it was all work of the Ministero della Salute. Hmm. Minister Lorenzin, so far, has not issued an apology for offending a large part of the Italian population; but instead has justified her actions – saying that there are campaigns to raise awareness of diabetes and cancer, so why not the same for fertility? She has also said that when she saw the slogans, the so-called cartoline, that they didn’t make a ‘bad impression’.
Well, you’re very much in the minority there.
It’s a very sad day when any State decides to take ownership of people’s bodies.