Premier Giorgia Meloni addressed a controversy sparked by one of her MPs, who asserted that motherhood should be the ultimate aspiration for Italian women amid a persistently declining birth rate.
Meloni responded by expressing that she would choose her daughter over her role as Prime Minister without hesitation.
While acknowledging the debate over whether “aspiration” is the correct term, Meloni, considered one of Italy’s most successful women, emphasised the unparalleled value of motherhood.
During an end-of-year press conference, she stated, “If asked to choose between the position of premier and my daughter Ginevra, I would have no doubts, like any other mother, because motherhood offers something incomparable.”
Meloni clarified her stance, stating, “If this is the concept, I agree with it. I do not agree that the goal of motherhood can limit opportunities for women.”
How the controversy started
The controversy arose on December 28 when Lavinia Mennuni, an MP from Meloni’s right-wing Brothers of Italy (FdI) party, proclaimed that motherhood should be the primary aspiration for Italian women. This led to opposition claims that FdI aimed to regress Italy to the Middle Ages.
Mennuni asserted on social media, “The first aspiration of girls must be to be mothers. There is a need, a mission to bring children into the world, who will be the future citizens and Italians.” She advocated for making having children “cool again” for wives and girlfriends.
In response, Chiara Appendino, the deputy leader of the populist 5-Star Movement (M5S) and former Turin mayor, questioned FdI’s nostalgia for the Middle Ages. Raffaella Paita of the centrist Italia Viva (IV) criticised Mennuni’s views as “embarrassing backwardness,” highlighting “echoes of ideas from an obscurantist past.”
Giorgia Meloni has unveiled plans to address Italy’s declining birth rate, designating it a top priority for the families minister. Meanwhile, her brother-in-law, Farm Minister Francesco Lollobrigida, stirred controversy by suggesting that Italians were being ethnically replaced by migrants.