September 22, 2016

Today is #fertilityday in Italy

Mama Cash Programme Officer and Italian national Vanina Serra comments on Italy’s most recent attempt to increase the birth rate in the country.

The Italian Minister of Health (who is, just FYI, a woman) decided to launch a campaign with the hashtag of #fertilityday. The aim of this campaign is to encourage young Italian couples (wait, let me be more precise: young Italian heterosexual couples) to procreate sooner rather than later.

All this in a country where there is no support to parents, public crèches are full and the private ones are in most cases too expensive for families, where women are very likely to get fired if they get pregnant, the school system is falling apart, and young people cannot find jobs and if they find them, precarious jobs are the rule. I didn’t have the courage to get informed about the costs of this campaign, but I am sure the minister could have found at least a million things more urgent than controlling our bodies.

The posters for this campaign are so bad that they are almost good. They are mainly addressed at women, reminding them that ‘beauty is endless, but fertility is not’ and that ‘fertility is a common good (like water)’. To be fair, I’ve heard there is also one portraying a rotting banana and reminding men to do their part of the job too, before it’s too late. It is all very medieval with a touch of Mussolini.

Of course the response to the campaign was exactly what you would expect in the age of social media: the hashtag has been taken over by priceless reinterpretations of and commentary on fertility day.

After all the social media backlash and receiving a ton of criticism, the Ministry of Health decided to call back the incriminating postcards and replace them with others that had no images – a safe choice, you would think.

But then, the day before the actual fertility day they issued this:


For those of you who don’t speak Italian, the text in the pictures associates white smiling people with good habits, and black people and bad girls smoking with bad habits that can jeopardise fertility.

In one smooth move the Ministry managed to make things worse and successfully send a sexist AND racist message in a single image.

The Minister of health at first said that people see only what they want to see, and there was no discrimination because she was seeing only boys and girls, no colours; then she decided to fire the director of communications of her ministry.

You can read more about Fertility Day in English and have a look at the images (and at their priceless reinterpretations) here.

How are you celebrating Fertility Day?

Share this article