Sanctity of Motherhood

Yakunina: “Serbia and Russia are the countries that are truly close to each other”

Yakunina: “Serbia and Russia are the countries that are truly close to each other”

Here is the speech performed by Natalia Yakunina, Chairperson of the Board of Trustees of “Sanctity of Motherhood”, the program implemented by the Foundation of Saint Andrew the First-Called. The speech has been delivered at The VII International Forum “Sanctity of Motherhood” this year titled “Family in lives of young generation: issues, practices and prospects”.

Let me welcome you at the Forum of “Sanctity of Motherhood” program here in Belgrade. There is nothing like the hospitality of Serbian people. We are extremely glad that The VII Forum of our Program is held in Belgrade. 

Serbia and Russia are the countries that are truly close to each other. We are united by the Slavic culture, the Orthodox Christianity, mutual help and support during historical events throughout the centuries. And it is going to be great if along with the close economic collaboration and active dialogue of cultures we will be closer thanks to cooperation in the family sphere. 

I guess the Forum in Belgrade is the first large-scale event in history of the Serbian-Russian relations that is fully dedicated to the family topic.  

Sergey Averintsev, Russian thinker of the 20th century, whose name is well-known in Europe, kept reminding that the Christian way to God is through fellow-beings. He wrote: “The blessed hardship of a family is related to the fact that a family is a place where each of us is getting really close to the most significant character in one’s life – the Other person”. In my opinion, these words give the beautiful description of a family that has its roots in the Orthodox Christianity, in Faith and culture of the Serbs and the Russians.

Young people and young families in particular are our future. And we would like Russia and Serbia to be always together in the future as well. That is why we’ve decided to dedicate the Forum in Belgrade to family in lives of the young generation.

“Young generation” and “family” are the notions that are inseparably connected. Unfortunately, today many young people do not choose the family-oriented life-style. In comparison to the entire history of humanity, it seems like an anomaly. Today this fact is one of the major challenges for a family as a public institution. 

According to the recent data from the European research on values (2018) the countries of Eastern Europe, where Orthodox Christians prevail, show the growing rate of young people (aged 15 to 24) who believe that “marriage is outdated”. While in Georgia (11%), Romania (15%) and Russia (19%) the amount of young people supporting this idea is under 20%, in Belorussia (27%), Serbia (28%) and Bulgaria (43%) this amount is rather significant. In the countries with prevailing Catholic population these numbers are even bigger, with Slovakia (40%), Spain (39%), Italy (43%) and Poland (12% as an exception).

Both the Serbs and the Russians find their happiness in their own family. And unfortunately, our families face similar challenges. That is why we came to Serbia with our experience we are happy to share. 

Previous Forums of “Sanctity of Motherhood” program always involved a lot of participants where their activity was based on the practices of the Program.  

It started as the project of several inspired and like-minded people, but today it comprises the efforts of thousands of people all over Russia. 

These are doctors and psychologists, journalists and experts in education, lawyers and public figures.

We are going to discuss the activity of these people tomorrow during the theme-based sessions of our Forum. This experience involves certain vital spheres where a family needs to get support today. I would like to present to you, dear friends, several initiatives and their practical outcomes that could be useful for our friends and colleagues in Serbia. 

In 2006 our Program was launched with the project titled “You are not alone”. It aimed to develop psychological support provided for pregnant women who were facing some life difficulties. The Foundation shared its positive results in many regions and helped organize the functioning of psychologists in Russian regions. 

After that, the nationwide decision was made to introduce positions of psychologists into all obstetrics institutions. The Foundation invited experts to develop methodological recommendations which were approved by the Healthcare Ministry and which are being applied  by psychologists in all the Russian regions. 

Since 2016 the All-Russian Contest “Sanctity of Motherhood” has been conducted to support and encourage psychologists and obstetricians.

Over 3,500 experts from almost all the regions of the Russian Federation took part in offline and online seminars to upgrade their qualifications. Thanks to best practices of our Program it has become possible to achieve the situation when up to 30% of women who apply for an abortion change their decision after the counselling. While usually this number is 10-15%.  

We should emphasize that all the specialists help the woman to make the decision to keep and to raise her baby when this decision is conscious and thought through. They help the woman feel confident as, according to the Russian statistics, it is psychological factors and not financial ones that stop a woman from having her baby.

As soon as the Forum is concluded, we are going to collect all the proposal and ideas presented by participants of the round-table talks. Just the way we did with practices of previous Forums, we are going to send those to relevant authorities of Russia. 

In Russia these proposals are taken into consideration in the documents at the government level where they define the manner of partnership between the state and the public for implementation for the family policy. We hope these ideas will be useful in Serbia as well in order to secure the dynamic development of family-oriented initiatives. 

Today both scientists and social activists see eye to eye that it is the targeted, sustainable and well-coordinated support from the state and civic institutions provided for a family that helps solve both social issues and social contradictions while they are still at the minimum level. As a representative of the public initiative, I think it is public initiatives that might be able to timely and keenly react to the needs and demands of people and families rather than state authorities. I guess the state figures who take part in this Forum will agree with me on this. Together, hand in hand, Russia and Serbia can and should become “family-oriented powers (states)” – the countries where support for families unite the entire nation. 

It can be done with the help of our joint initiatives aimed to support young families as it is the time of youth when a person is full of energy and thinking about the future; it is time when people start their families, give birth to children and raise them. I hope the Forum will help in this matter. 

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