This one is almost too much to take seriously. Apparently, September 12 was Conception Day in one region of Russia–the fifth year that Governor Sergei Morozov has used a half day off from work and a series of cash and gift prizes to encourage procreation for his dwindling region of Russia.
During what some experts are deeming a population crisis caused by too much population growth in already overpopulated parts of the world, other countries, predominantly white countries like Italy, France and Russia are having trouble reproducing at a replacement rate.
But anyways, back to the ridiculous Conception Day in Russia. According to an article at MSNBC, in addition to getting time off from work (presumably to have sex), if a woman does give birth 9 months after Conception Day, she and her husband can win a multitude of prizes, including a car.
This isn’t the first time a Western European country has tried to use incentives to encourage procreation. In Romania they used to give women special titles for having multiple children (we’re talking upwards of 5). In response to a recent trend in European countries having negative population growth, I expect that these tactics will continue to evolve and develop.
What does it mean for a government to manipulate women’s bodies for political reasons? The fertility of marginalized populations (women of color, incarcerated women, disabled women) has been controlled in the past (and continues to be controlled). Sterilization practices, welfare family caps, two child policies all are ways the government uses to discourage certain populations from reproducing. Similarly, initiatives like this procreation day are one way the government has of encouraging other groups to reproduce. Both tactics smack of eugenics and racism, as well as nationalistic sentiment and the geopolitics of population.
These concerns around population growth and the environment are a great example of what is meant by the term reproductive justice–where reproductive rights intersect with another social justice issue–environmental activism.
There is an easier way for these countries to encourage population growth: immigration. Of course, then we’ve opened up a whole ‘nother can of worms: where reproductive rights intersect with racism, didn’t we?
I don’t think there is anything wrong with encouraging indigenous populations to reproduce at a replacement rate. I think a country should be interested in maintaining it’s indigenous populations. I think it would be sad if we looked up one day and all the full-blooded Italians or Russians or native Australians or Inuits had died off. Seriously. But if their are underlying problems such as poor health that is at the root cause, I don’t see “Conception Day” changing a thing.