Sanctity of Motherhood

Yakunina: the question «Are you going to keep this baby?» can confuse any woman, even the most confident one

Yakunina: the question «Are you going to keep this baby?» can confuse any woman, even the most confident one

— Natalia Viktorovna, what are the goals and specific features of the Forum «Sanctity of Motherhood» this year? It is the fifth Forum, isn’t it? What are your expectations?

— Each of previous forums ended up with making some practical recommendations addressed to state bodies. On behalf of representatives of the public from almost all regions of Russia we proposed amendments to the law, managed to get an extended list of practical measures to support family, motherhood and childhood. In fact, most of the proposals have been realized in legislative acts, in orders of Ministries and Departments, in action plans related to implementation of the Concept of State Family Policy and the National Strategy of Actions for the Benefit of Children for the period 2012-2017.

It seems a lot has been done. The state considers family as the whole entity. Serious programmes are implemented to support families with two children that made it possible to create the image of family with two children as a norm. The total birth rate has grown: in 2001 it was only 1.195, in 2015 — already 1.777. We need just a little more time to reach the indicators of natural reproduction. But demography analysts beat the alarm: the generation of 1990s is entering the reproductive age; it was the time of demographic collapse in our country. It means that fewer women are capable to give birth.

There are two ways out: to decrease the quantity of abortions and to increase the quantity of large families. This year our colleagues and me decided that it is time to initiate a public discussion on how to assess the family policy measures taken by the state. How to increase the efficiency of interaction of public organizations and representatives of federal, regional, municipal authorities? As a result of the Forum, certain proposals will be prepared related to assessment criteria for performance of federal, regional, municipal bodies in different spheres of family policy.

- You mentioned the decrease in number of abortions. This topic causes a stir in the society. What is your recipe to solve this issue?

— For ten years my colleagues from different regions of Russia and I have been organizing work of psychologists in women’s consultation clinics.

- Are you doing this at your own expense?

— At first we had to do it at our own expense, and at the expense of caring citizens. Parochial communities of the Russian Orthodox Church were of great importance in this matter.  

Ministry of Healthcare heard the voice of the public. The order was issued about the need for a psychologist’s position in every women’s consultation clinic. But the funding should be allocated from regional budgets. There’s lack of it. Psychologists work half time. Sometimes their salary is 5,000 Rubles a month. Who is going to work with such conditions? Only activists who see it as their mission. There can be another option: the payment for this position is given to  obstetricians-gynecologists. There are cases when the same people perform abortions and provide psychological help at the same time.

According to experts, a psychologist’s position has been introduced in less than half of women’s consultation clinics in Russia. And nobody knows for sure how many specialists-psychologists actually work.

— What is being done as part of «Sanctity of Motherhood» programme in order to change the situation?

— We work hand in hand with the heads of Ministry of Healthcare. We work on the introduction of a psychologist’s position in regions. In the regions of the Federation where psychologists work we organize advanced courses, develop and disseminate study guides, carry out inter-regional webinars and representative conferences.

This year for the first time the contest for employees of women’s consultation clinics of Russia was held, the criteria being the keeping of a human life. We received 215 applications from 60 regions of Russia.

Finalists of the contest were invited to attend the Forum in Saint-Petersburg. At the plenary session of the Forum there will be 500 people from different parts of our country and representatives of federal bodies. And 13 winners will be awarded in front of all the participants. We have made a definite decision to award the winners with the cash prize. The total prize fund of the contest is 1 million Rubles.
Also within 10 years we signed 26 cooperation agreements with regions of the Russian Federation. Saint-Petersburg will become the 27th region. The signing of the agreement will take place right before the plenary session of the Forum in Smolny. We carry out educational seminars for regional journalists who cover the family topic. We work with young leaders of family-oriented non-commercial organizations.

In the course of our activity we provided support to create centres of motherhood protection in Nizhny Novgorod and Samara. 15 million Rubles were raised at the Charity Auction that was organized by «Sanctity of Motherhood» programme with support from Endowment Fund «ISTOKI». This financial support was given to centres of motherhood protection in Ivanovo, Nizhny Novgorod, Ryazan, Penza, Smolensk, Alatyr and Samara.

— Why did you get involved in «Sanctity of Motherhood» programme?

— When ten years ago our colleagues in Krasnoyarsk launched a psychologist’s position at one and then at several other women’s consultation clinics and they informed me that one more woman changed her mind about the abortion and kept the baby, it was the greatest feeling of joy for me.

When you understand that it was also thanks to you that another baby was born and that it might not have happened, you get the power for new achievements. That is why there are so many people across the country who follow their heart and start working with women who appeared to be in a difficult life situation.

— What are the tasks of the programme you are in charge with?

— In this case we should talk about the tasks of the authorities and caring society.

It is imperative to combine the efforts and achieve the situation when every woman who visits a women’s consultation clinic for an abortion could have the opportunity to talk to a psychologist. There is still much to be done in this respect.

It is necessary to do our best for centres of motherhood protection to be open in every region, in every eparchy. To achieve this, the quantity of the centres should increase dozens of times.

Every year in different regions of Russia we organize Schools of Public Activity. Participants of the schools are leaders of youth family-oriented social initiatives. We help them improve their performance and they, in return, attract thousands of new activists to provide help for large and foster families, for successful socialization of orphans, for solving many other tasks. It’s important that when a person obtains some volunteer experience he or she starts not only helping others but also becomes a wiser and more loving person. We try to organize schools in different regions and call for heads of subjects of the Federation and representatives of regional public funds to come up with initiatives of such events in their regions.

It is the very beginning of the work we initiated on formation of family-oriented information policy. There is the order of President of Russia addressed to the government of the Russian Federation. But still no serious steps have been made in this respect.

— Who is funding «Sanctity of Motherhood» program?

— For ten years the programme received financial support from the Foundation of St. Andrew the First-Called. Several years ago Specialized Endowment Fund «ISTOKI» was founded. The Fund raises funds for implementation of some programmes including ours.
Every year the scope of implemented projects is growing and the need for funds is growing too. We organize charity events where we also raise funds for the programme. We appeal to all caring people, commercial organizations for support. Only joint efforts will help us gradually move in this direction.

— What is your personal opinion about abortions?

— In my youth abortions were not widely spread in my circle of contacts. In general they were not prohibited in the country but they were not discussed in papers or on TV. When some publications about abortions were published in 1990s it couldn’t help causing some serious debates. When, according to experts, every year several millions of babies are not born — it is a tragedy. It is a personal tragedy for every woman who has had an abortion. It is a tragedy for the whole country as its population rate has been steadily decreasing throughout many years.

That is why it is important for me to use any opportunity to help women have a conscious choice in favour of keeping the baby. 40,000 human lives that were saved also thanks to our programme, is a great achievement and all the people involved can be proud of it.

— Can the abortion ban solve the issue?

— I am dreaming about the time when there are no abortions in Russia.

At our Forum there are traditionally fierce debates between representatives of the public and medical society. Everybody speaks up against abortions but as for the matter of complete ban for abortions — the opinions are different. Medical specialists and officials believe that if a new life is not the greatest value for a woman she will find a way to have an abortion anyway. She will expose her health to great danger with the risk of death. And from the point of view of the law she will become a murderer.

We are working on changing the attitude to the abortion topic of both the whole society in general and medical community in particular. It is very important how a woman is treated at a women’s consultation clinic. The question «Are you going to keep the baby?» can confuse any even most confident woman. Doctors should treat a new life as the greatest value. And as for the society in general, how can it be possible to say out loud accusing phrases towards a large family: «why so many kids?», «why to give birth to more and more poor people»?

— How did you manage to agree about a psychologist’s work at municipal institution? Do you face any difficulties?

— At first it wasn’t easy. Here the inertness of our way of thinking is of great importance. Middle-aged and elderly doctors were brought up when abortions were a standard medical procedure. We can see how sensitively our society still treats the issue of abortions. And the situation with doctors is even more serious as they’ve made thousands of abortions. And suddenly some public actors come to them and tell them that those doctors are accessories to murders. There were cases of such unproductive cases of public activity and as a result they turned the medical community away with their following extremely negative attitude to any initiatives aimed at prevention of abortions.

We chose a different way. We told doctors that we wanted to help in their work. In the beginning we funded a psychologist’s position at our own expense. We provided descriptive materials, videos. It took a lot of time, but the attitude was changing. In no time could we get the support from colleagues from different regions of Russia.

— Demographic experts speak about irrevocable changing of family structure. A large family in the country used to be the guarantee for well-being of all its members. Perhaps in the industrial society, and moreover in post-industrial one a large family is turning into an archaic thing. What do you think?

— I am sure that a real large family starts only with the birth of a fourth child. God gave two children to our family. But from my acquaintances with a large family I know that three children is the quantity of babies parents can cope with. Starting from the fourth child it is more difficult to find time for everything, to organize everything.

A family with three children should become a norm. By the way, President of Russia Vladimir Putin said about this. This is the guideline we should try to follow. Unfortunately the amount of large families is on the level of 6% in comparison to the total number of families. According to demographic analysts, for natural reproduction of our society it is necessary to have at least 50% of families with three and more children.

— According to statistic data, many children in a family and poverty are almost always interconnected. How can we present a perfect picture of a large family for young people having this situation?

— We see that from year to year the state pays more and more attention to financial support for families. No doubt, these measures are not complete. At out forums we discuss additional measures the state can take. As usual, it’s all about money. At our forums we hear proposals that a mother with many children should get paid for her job. That the state should offer tax benefits to fathers with many children including income tax and social payments.

At the same time how can we measure the joy and care our children bring us? Our investments into the future are not material. Our future is our children. That’s not just words.РИА Новости


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