A government ad campaign to boost one of the world’s lowest birth rates has wrapped up before due term after critics dismissed it as patronizing, accusatory and sexist.
On Friday, Health Minister Beatrice Lorenzin said she would make unspecified “changes” to a campaign that began only Wednesday, and was meant to build up to Fertility Day, scheduled for September 22, when public festivals staffed with doctors, family advisers and baby product sales reps are supposed to take place in four cities across the country.
The fate of the misconceived campaign was likely sealed a day earlier, when Prime Minister Matteo Renzi stepped in himself, to criticize Lorenzin.
“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,” Renzi said in a radio interview. “I don’t know of any of my friends who had kids after they saw an advertisement.”
But Renzi, who has three children, was riding a cresting wave of a Twitter storm that had begun almost as soon as the handful images were released.
Many of them either cajole families into having a baby, or warn that they could miss their chance.
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Source: The Guardian, September 5
The recent law on civil unions approved by the Italian parliament a few weeks ago gave many the impression that the state had finally accepted a broader idea of the family, but now this campaign puts the emphasis back on discrimination. Women are targeted by this fertility campaign, as if they were the only people responsible for the declining birthrate that has been affecting Italy for many years.
It all sounds so similar to the fascist slogans of the 1930s, when posters on the walls incited women to give more children to the fatherland. Many cannot believe that a female minister has launched such a sexist, ageist, anachronistic campaign in a country where many other urgent problems remain to be addressed.