Italians Urged By Government Campaign To Have More Kids: The Response Is Not Good

Countries of the European Union are experiencing large shifts in regard to demographics, including fewer children being born annually. The Health Ministry of Italy recently launched an ad campaign that made known the fact that September 22 is “fertility day.”

One poster for the campaign read, “Beauty has no age limit. Fertility does.”

Also on the poster was a woman holding an hourglass.

A poster directed at men involved an image of a man smoking a cigarette and the caption, “Don’t let your sperm go up in smoke.”

Many Italians admitted that another ad confused them, seeing as it claimed fertility was “a common good.” This reminded many of the fascist propaganda from the 1920s that urged women to have more babies to support the nation.

Needless to say, social media commentators were not impressed by the campaign. The campaign was withdrawn over the weekend, but the negative response has not dwindled. The Washington Post notes a few remarks made on social media about the campaign.

“So embarrassed to live here. The #fertilityday campaign is offensive, sexist and dangerous. I’m ashamed and embarrassed.”

Italy’s pension system is reliant on a certain number of young people joining the workforce annually. Other members of the EU have attempted to match the declining birthrates by attracting more immigrants into their nations. Germany is one country that has made use of this tactic. In Italy, the youth unemployment rate holds steady at around 35 percent.

As the publication shares, Matteo Renzi, Italy’s prime minister, was not impressed with the campaign put forth by his Health Ministry and spoke on the matter.

“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.”

By this statement given to the BBC, Renzi implied that a simple ad campaign could not make up for the issues and shortcomings that Italian government has been accused of. Included in these are the issue of lower wages for women and insufficient day care, which have been leading reasons for low birthrates. The birthrate in Italy stands at 1.35, which is below the EU average of 1.6.

However, it wasn’t just Italy that has used such tactics to encourage citizens to have more children. Italians need only look to the north, where Scandinavian countries are also using quite original means to motivate citizens to procreate. Some methods have been termed bizarre by those abroad yet have found a good tone to get across the pertinent message in a witty and creative manner.

A good example involves strategies used by the government in Denmark, where birthrates lag behind many other nations. There are many reasons for this, including the simple fact that individuals are unwilling to raise children. In sex education classes, the emphasis in now on how to get pregnant as opposed to how to avoid sexually transmitted diseases.

“Suddenly we just thought, maybe we should actually also tell them about how to get pregnant,” Marianne Lomholt, national director of Sex and Society, told the New York Times.

Between 12 and 20 percent of Danes are unable to have children, and this is mainly due to the fact that the individuals are already too old when they decide to become pregnant. The focus for teachers now is to address the dangers of sex and pregnancies but to also talk about the benefits of sex and pregnancies.

Much like the Italian fertility campaign, private companies in Denmark have used witty slogans and campaigns to attempt to drive up the birth rate. A travel company by the name of Spies tried to encourage travel by noting that 10 percent of all Danes were conceived abroad. The slogan: “Do it for Denmark.”

The voiceover on the ad continues, “Can sex save Denmark’s future? 46 percent of Danes have more sex on holiday,” alluding to the fact that “taking a vacation won’t just relax you — it can also be seen as an act of patriotism.”

[Photo by Brent Stirton/Getty Images]

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