In Belarus, the attitude towards women is one of reverence. Women are traditionally viewed as the guardians of family, children, and love. Mother’s Day was celebrated this year on May 8th. On this day every year, mothers receive a plethora of flowers, representing their inner beauty and selflessness. Everyone, from the smallest child to the oldest man, honors the devotion of their mothers,
their loyalty, dedication and love. Belarusian mothers are considered the doctors of their homes. If anyone in their family gets sick, these wonderful women strive to cure the illness, prior to going to the doctor, by using traditional medicine, which can include infusions of herbs, berries, and compresses.
Although Belarusian society is not matriarchal, women play a very significant role. For this reason, all Belarusians strive to cherish and protect women, especially mothers.
BELARUS AND THE STATE OF MOTHERHOOD
In 2015, Belarus ranked 25th in the Save the Children State of the World’s Mothers Index. Since 2000, Save the Children has annually published this index. The publication presents the ranking of the most suitable places for mothers in the world. Statistics are compiled on the health of mothers and children and are used to produce rankings of more than 179 countries. Parameters include maternal death, early mortality in children, the level and access to education, women’s incomes and female representation in the government.
Belarus moved one spot up from the 26th place a year ago.
Belarus currently ranks higher than any other former Soviet republic; to date, Russia is 56th, Kazakhstan is 58th, Ukraine is 69th and Azerbaijan is 90th.
The United Kingdom is one spot ahead of Belarus in the 24th position. However, the United States is behind Belarus in the ranking at 33rd.
In 2015, Belarus also launched a five-year family capital program in order to improve the demographic situation in the country. The government financially supports families who raise more than two children, providing them with a one-time cashless allowance of $10,000. By January 2016, the government had already approved 11,600 families for this program. Women who give birth also receive a one-off birth grant.
THE BENEFITS OF MOTH- ERHOOD IN BELARUS
In 2015, Belarus ranked 25th in the Save the Children State of the World’s Mothers Index. Since 2000, Save the Children has annually published this index.
The Belarusian government has always strived to take care of mothers in many different ways. These components are what has ensured that Belarus has ranked among the best in the world for mothers and include: the right to free medical care in public health facilities; the right to ensured access to the medical system; in- formed consent to medical intervention; choice of doctor and healthcare organizations; the right to participation in the selection of health care practices; the right to obtain information related to health and medical treatment; and respectful and humane treatment by health workers.
Amazingly, Belarusian women can go on maternity leave at the 30th week of pregnancy. Their salaries actually slightly increase at this point, due to an additional allowance from the state. Mothers in Belarus can stay on maternity leave for three years after childbirth. This is the longest paid maternity leave among post-Soviet countries. Although there can be issues for any woman with integration back into the workforce, a woman’s workplace is secured for her return, by law, throughout her maternity leave.
Even when compared with other nations in the region, Belarus seems to be a fantastic place for mothers. For example, in Poland, a woman can take maternity leave only two weeks before the estimated date of the child’s birth. After the child is born, they can stay with the child for six months and then are 100% paid by their workplace, or a year with 80% of their salary, from the government. Although Polish women also can look after the child for up to four years, they do not get any financial support from the state during this time.
Considering the challenges that the Belarusian economy is facing in 2016, the government is trying to find ways to optimize the social security system and expenses. There are currently discussions to reduce the paid maternity leave to two years instead of three, which would lead to annual economic growth of about 2.3 percent.
However, these changes to maternity leave have sparked a lively discussion in the media, which caused many Belarusians to negatively react to the proposed changes. Clearly, motherhood is an extremely important issue for citizens of the country.
TAKING CARE OF THE ONES TAKING CARE OF US
In addition to mothers being confident of their return to the workplace, maternal mortality rates in Belarus are among the lowest in the world, according to the United Nations. Sviatlana Saroka, a chief gynecologist in the Belarusian Healthcare Ministry, has previously commented on Belarus’s standing in the index and proudly highlighted that, “Belarus has highly advanced obstetrician-gynecological and pediatric services.” This model of maternal care is currently recognized by experts as one of the best in the world for ensuring affordable health care to mothers and their babies.
Although Mother’s Day is often celebrated with a card and flowers once a year, the way in which Belarus strives to take care of its mothers throughout the year is an example for all countries to follow. Whatever the circumstances, individuals and nations owe all mothers, young and old, the support and recognition they deserve.
For more information: www.savethechildren.org
By Tatyana Titova