NEWS » Italy's first fertility day

Italy's first fertility day

The Italian health minister Beatrice Lorenzini  introduced the first “Fertility day” a state-sponsored event informing people about family planning and health issues which may harm female and male fertility. The campaign was accompanied by twelve posters which provoked harsh criticism on behalf of the public. The campaign and the overall initiative caused polemics due to the posters considered offensive by most of the general public and some politicians.

 

Italians are having increasingly less children. The lowest birth rate since Italy united as one country in 1861 was recorded last year. The data is alarming because since the 1960s, Italy's birth rate has halved to 488,000 babies born in 2015.

 

Italian women give birth to 1.39 children on average, compared the 1.58 average across the EU. One of the main reasons preventing women from having children is their dramatically low rate of participation in the workforce.

 

What made the Italian citizens angry were the twelve adverts used to promote the event. The public and some political parties strongly criticized the words and the imagines used to promote the initiative. Immediately after the releasing of the first posters, fake ones mocking the real ones were already on social media.

 

The most criticised posters were the ones showing a young woman holding an hourglass with a phrase saying: "Beauty has no age but fertility has" and  another showing two pairs of feet poking out the bottom of a bed alongside the message: "Young parents. The best way to be creative." “Fertility is a common good,” reads another. The campaign also targets male fertility, with the slogan “Male fertility is much more vulnerable than you might think” running alongside a picture of a decaying banana peel.

 

Many people found the campaign an insult to women and to those people who are unable to conceive. Young people felt insulted as youth unemployment in Italy is 35 per cent and to create a family without a job or state help doesn't sound like a good idea.

 

The most controversial posters have been withdrawn due to the protests but in any case the first “fertility day” will be held on the 22 of September as an annual national day. It will be the central point of the initiatives envisaged by the National Plan of Fertility to draw public attention to the issue of prevention of infertility and sexual and reproductive health of women and men.

 

The day will involve young people in information sessions, teachers, families, doctors, pharmacists, professional orders, associations and scientific institutions, municipalities and schools. Panel discussions are going to be held in the cities of Rome, Padua, Bologna and Catania with experts such as, health professionals, representatives of professional associations, scientific societies and patient associations, local institutions and media.

 

Among the subjects discussed there will be, current possibilities of medical and surgical therapies to cure infertility of the couple, how public medicine can support fertility, cancer prevention and the main risk factors for fertility and pregnancy.

 

The government has often spoken about a ‘baby bonus’ which might help families in financial distress but some experts pointed out that there is no correlation between giving out money and the birth rate. However, there is a correlation between the range of services provided and people having more children. The real problem is not fertility in itself but that having children is a long-term project but there isn't a government long term strategy to support the families.

Giulia Lombardo

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