The Second Eurasian Women’s Forum is taking place between September 19 and 21 at major convention centres and cultural venues in the historical centre of St Petersburg. The Tavrichesky Palace and the Parliamentary Centre serve as the main venue for the forum’s business programme. The forum is organised by the Federation Council and the Inter-Parliamentary Assembly of the CIS, with support from a number of ministries, agencies and NGOs.
* * *
Speech at the plenary session of the Second Eurasian Women’s Forum
President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, friends.
I am delighted to welcome all of you to Russia, to St Petersburg, my hometown, and to the Second Eurasian Women’s Forum.
The geography of this forum reaches far beyond our continent. I was just informed by Ms Matviyenko [Federation Council Speaker] that you represent more than 110 countries, as well as the leading international organisations.
Russia contributes in significant ways to discussions on strategies designed to enhance the role of women in tackling global challenges.
This is not without reason, since Russia has always paid special attention to protecting mothers and children, as well as supporting women. I would go as far as to argue that we treat women in a special way, with tenderness, cordiality and sincerity.
History provides us with quite a few extraordinary examples when women assumed responsibility for decisions that were pivotal for entire countries and nations.
In today’s complex, rapidly changing world women are proactive and successful in many spheres, and play an increasingly important role in strengthening peace and security, which is their natural role, and contribute to addressing key socioeconomic and humanitarian problems.
Women are active in the United Nations and head leading international organisations, executive and legislative authorities in their countries. Many women are talented scientists, entrepreneurs, politicians and public figures. I can also see outstanding athletes in this room.
The world, the countries will only benefit if such women's success stories become as frequent as possible. We will be able to consolidate the national potential, ensure sustainable global development – for the entire civilisation.
It is in our common interest to deal with gender inequality, to eradicate many stereotypes and career restrictions that still exist, unfortunately, and, importantly, to pave the way to the necessary education for girls, to create comfortable conditions for working and running their own business. Women must feel emancipated and independent, and have effective guarantees of social and legal protection.
On the other hand, it is also important to preserve traditional values: family and motherhood, which do not depend on the social system or technological progress, and are shared by countries with different cultures, customs, and different codes.
It is these values that underlie our new demographic project. It is planned for the next six years and is a logical extension of the previously completed work on supporting motherhood and childhood that we have been conducting in recent years in our country. A major accomplishment without exaggeration. (Applause.) Thank you very much.
The so-called maternity capital programme has been extended, meaning Russian families will continue to receive financial assistance at the birth of their second and subsequent children. Low-income families and parents of children with disabilities are also entitled to government support.
We know that this is not enough, that it is too little, very little, but that is why we have introduced a subsidy for mortgage interest for families with two or more children. Additional assistance will be provided to families living in the Far Eastern regions of the Russian Federation, compensating for the difficult living conditions there and the high cost of living.
I must note that the total amount of financial support Russian families will receive upon the birth of children under the national project will reach almost 2.7 trillion rubles. Important decisions have also been made to support women in the labour market, which is extremely important.
I would like to note that technological progress creates new opportunities for women who want to reduce the time spent on household responsibilities, to study remotely, to do business, to bring together like-minded people and carry out research, business and volunteering projects together. By the way, our country has already created a legal framework for part-time and remote work.
At the same time, we fully understand other consequences of technological development and the shifting technological environment. Entire occupations are disappearing and low-skilled work is being forced out of the market.
This is why it is so important to help women to study again and get a new occupation, a new job, including in the digital economy industry, and to learn entrepreneurship skills.
Speaking of which, last year ahead of International Women’s Day on March 8, I met with Russian women entrepreneurs. It was such an enjoyable meeting. They have so many ideas and theirs were real success stories. Some of them actually started their businesses from scratch, created them and are building them up successfully. It is a real pleasure to see that. They are setting a good example to many men.
Starting next year, Russia is launching free state-run professional development programmes that will be available to all the women on maternity leave who are taking care of children aged three and younger.
For mothers to be able to work, we have made sure that 100 percent young children are provided with a place in kindergartens across Russia, in almost all the Russian regions with a small exception – but we will see it through to the end.
In the next few years, we will create additional places in nurseries so that women can return to work as soon as possible or get a new profession and resume work.
It should be stressed that our strategy to support women is comprehensive and multidimensional. It provides aid to small businesses and individual entrepreneurs, including social entrepreneurs, support of volunteering and NGOs, development of education and healthcare, building conditions for success of all proactive and ambitious people.
We are ready to share our solutions and use the best practices from other countries. Therefore, events like this are very important. Together we can create the best opportunities for women to realise their potential, to build their lives and a prosperous future for their children, and to make the world around them better.
As Indira Gandhi, a very good friend of our country, once said, “Actions today mould our tomorrows.”
I wish you happiness. Thank you for your attention.