Today Russia has a number of state programs encouraging couples to have larger families. Source: ITAR-TASS
A conference entitled “The Large Family and the Future of Humanity” was recently held in Moscow. The conference, which was attended by 1,500 people from 45 countries, was organized by the Center for National Glory, the Foundation of St. Andrew, the charitable foundation of St. Basil the Great and the Moscow Patriarchate Commission for Family Affairs.
The participants in the conference were representatives of political and religious institutions that promote traditional family values.
Aymeric Chauprade, a member of the European Parliament representing France’s far-right National Front Party called Russia a beacon of hope for humanity in its efforts to protect traditional values.
“Thanks to Russian President Vladimir Putin, the people of the world can have hope and the opportunity to protect family values,” Chauprade said.
Some speakers at the event used the meeting as a chance to discuss Russia’s demographic crisis. Russia already has a number of state programs encouraging couples to have larger families, however Alexander Zhavoronkov, a research fellow at the Institute of Sociology at the Russian Academy of Sciences, said that these initiatives are not enough. According to Zhavoronkov, in recent years, Russians have prioritized their jobs, friends and hobbies ahead of starting a family.
Greek parliamentary deputy Anastasios Nerantzis of the New Democracy Party said that his country is experiencing demographic issues similar to those in Russia. “The primary reason the population is declining isn’t war, disease, or catastrophe. It’s birth rates,” Nerantzis said. According to him, in the past the birth rate was 3.7 children per woman in Greece; now it is just 1.2.
Janice Shaw Crouse, a senior fellow at the Beverly LaHaye Institute, which works to promote Biblical principles in public policy, said that demographics in the United States are changing, primarily as a result of pro-family initiatives. She noted that since 2013, 36 states have adopted laws that limit abortions. Crouse also pointed out that the number of teen pregnancies in the U.S. is decreasing while the birth rate among women over 20 is going up. She attributes this trend to programs that promote abstinence.
Natalia Yakunina, the chairwoman of the Board of Trustees of the Sanctity of Motherhood program, which encourages Russians to have three or more children, said that the government should offer support to families more often. Currently the government supports families with the “mother’s capital,” a lump-sum payment on the birth of a second child that can be used for the child’s education, a mortgage on an apartment or invested into the mother’s pension.
Yakunina thinks that there are other moments when a family could use such support. She also thinks that Russians today are being encouraged to build other kinds of relationships, such as with colleagues and friends, to substitute for families.
“This trend is being manifested in pop culture images, which lay down patterns of behavior, primarily for young people. Without family, humanity will cease to be,” Yakunina said.
As part of the event, participants drafted a resolution asking the United Nations to “follow the letter and the spirit of Article 16 in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which underscores the understanding of the Human Family as the only possible and acceptable notion to human civilization, and to proclaim in the foreseeable future a Special Year or Program in support of the Natural Family.”
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