Sanctity of Motherhood

Yakunina: the way young people treat a family is a critical issue of today

Yakunina: the way young people treat a family is a critical issue of today

Yana Shamayeva has interviewed the Chairperson of the Board of Trustees of “Sanctity of Motherhood” program just before The VII International Forum of the Program that takes place in Belgrade on November 7th -8th

The way young people think of having a family of their own is one of critical issues of today. Each and every year a number of your people and couples who postpone the idea of making their own family and who do not see their family matters as high priority is growing. Interviewed by “RG”, Natalia Yakunina, the Chairperson of the Board of Trustees of  ”Sanctity of Motherhood”, told about the “Sanctity of  Motherhood” Forum, the reasons for such a tendency and the future of marriage and family, which is the major topic for discussion at the Forum. 

- Every year “Sanctity of Motherhood” Forums cover the family matters one way or another. Last year they focused on the significance of family in the present-day world. Why is it young people who represent the key element of the Forum?

- We are worried about the current tendencies. In 2018 the results of the European survey on values were published. According to the data, 28% of young people of Serbia (aged 15-24) and 43% of young people in Bulgaria believe that family is “an outdated institution”. The numbers in Russia are lower – 19% , but it also gives food for thought. 

According to studies carried out by the Russian Academy of Education and involving over 7,000 pupils, over 50% of the young people who took part in the study do not see the family where they are being raised as a role model for the future family of their own. 

We think the way young people treat a family is one of the most critical issues of today. At least, it is the case in the social sphere. Also, in Belgrade we are going to discuss school programs for children and teenagers on family matters, reproductive health of the entire family, its members of different ages, the role of mass media as far as the attitude to family is concerned, along with other topics. 

Competent teachers, psychologists, sociologists and NGO members along with state officials from Russia, Serbia, Belorussia, China and other countries are going to take part in the Forum. We are going to share best practices, consider real cases involving young people on the family topic.

Our main goal is to involve scientists and experts (sociologists, psychologists, lawyers and others) in order to understand the way young people see their own prospective family life and how NGOs, educational institutions and authorities can help young people.   

- Why was Belgrade chosen as the venue for the Forum? In 2019 it was the first time when the event took  place outside of Russia, in Minsk. Where is it going to be held in 2020? Will the tendency carry on and the Forum will be held abroad and not in Russian cities?  

- We hold the forums in places where we see requests from NGOs and relevant authorities. We would like to share our best practices and those from our partners. Also, we would like to get new ideas from the projects carried out by the hosts of the forums. 

The political issues focused on family and demography are of great significance for Serbia. The Serbs even have the notion of “white plague” which stands for the depopulation taking place in the country following the low birth rate along with migration of young people who leave for other countries. 

Russia has gained solid and constructive experience related to social and state partnership in the family sphere. I would like the practices and ideas, which have been successfully implemented in our country, to be useful for Serbia as well. Of course, Serbia has its own peculiarities. But the Serbs might learn our proposals and apply them in case they see such practices applicable in their country.  

- Could you share your opinion regarding the issues and challenges that are of most significance for present-day families? Do they get to change each and every year or stay the same?

- One of the key issues is that for many young people the idea to make a family and to be family-oriented is of not such a great importance. There are a lot of debates and opinions regarding the reasons for this: perhaps there are different reasons in different countries. However, we can define the general and most significant factors. 

A present-day human being does no longer see a family as the institution necessary for survival. Today a person can live alone without any hardships related to one’s household or social activity. It is important to create certain forms of family support that would help a young person make a family and provide for it, and at the same time that would ensure such a person could enjoy the benefits of modern civilization such as professional development and mobility.  In this respect, I think one should pay attention to family-oriented practices applied by companies, such as programs of Corporate Social Responsibility. And that is what we are going to discuss at the Forum during the section on “Collaboration of non-profit organizations, business community and the state in the field of support provided for young families, motherhood, fatherhood and childhood”.

Also, a family does not get enough support and attention from mass media. It is journalists who emphasize this fact (since 2014 our program has been implementing The All-Russian Contest for Journalists titled “Family and the Future of Russia”). During the Forum’s round-table talks on family-oriented public communications policy the participants are going to discuss the possible measures to make the image of a family more favorable and inspiring for young people when they see it in newspapers and magazines or on TV. 

As for the needs of a present-day family, I believe these two topics are of greatest significance. For many young people it is a challenge to combine professional and family responsibilities, to enjoy personal fulfillment in professional sphere along with being a caring and loving parent. 

And we know that people really need the family topic to be covered by mass media more actively and on a regular basis. Back in 2013, we ordered the all-Russia social survey conducted by “Tsirkon” research team that proved this point. 

- They say the institution of marriage and family has been destructed in Russia. Do you concur? Which methods to settle family disputes are in greater demand in Russia at the moment? Are there any differences in other countries in this respect?

- As long as family is based on marriage, the latter, along with family, is facing plenty of challenges. As I’ve mentioned before, the results of social research reveal that both in Russia and in many other countries plenty of young people do not see any value in marriage. Which means that currently family and marriage need urgent social and economic support, and legal and communications support in particular.  As for the matter of legal protection of a family, we are greatly interested in the family mediation practice that is widely applied in many countries at the moment. However, in Russia this activity is still at its early stage. For instance, Austria successfully applies mediation for family disputes where legal, social, psychological and individual aspects are taken into consideration altogether. It helps overcome contradictions without any conflict and keep families together. Such practices are particularly of great value as they avoid interference with domestic affairs and help solve many issues that otherwise could cause fierce family conflicts.  

- What are the major family-oriented issues the Forum’s experts are going to discuss? Will there be any questions that have never been raised before?

- Overall, the Forum in Belgrade sustains the traditions of previous events. 

It is important for us for the event in Serbia to focus on practices of our Program in terms of several areas, such as psychological support for pregnant women as part of “You are not alone” project; initiatives in the field of family-oriented communications policy; the preliminary program for “Family Studies” in schools. Each of these areas comprises immense experience from plenty of experts. And we hope this experience will be useful for our colleagues and supporters in Serbia. 

The legal practices to support family and models of collaboration between non-profit organizations, the state and business in the family sphere are rather new matters for discussion. These issues were discussed during the previous forum of the program held in Minsk (as part of dedicated theme-based sections). We can see these issues have great potential for discussion and therefore they will be covered in Belgrade as well.

- What are your expectations regarding the Forum this year? How do you assess the results of several years of holding this event?

- The most important thing is we have brought a lot of our own practices and ideas to Serbia. Representatives of many Russian regions are visiting Serbia (including heads of relevant state departments of regional level along with renowned scientists and public figures). Serbia is also represented by very interesting participants who represent the state and public. I am sure the Serbs and the Russians will have a lot to discuss.  

Russia and Serbia and united by strong economic cooperation and the active collaboration in the culture area.  Therefore, the active interaction in the family sphere, with support from our Forum, should be extremely useful for our countries. 

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