President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Friends,
I am sincerely happy to welcome all of you to St Petersburg and to the third Eurasian Women’s Forum.
As you know, it was held for the first time in 2015, and has confidently gained a place among reputable international platforms, which can be confirmed by the current forum’s representation.
It has brought together women leaders: politicians, entrepreneurs and public activists from over 100 countries, which is incredible in today’s conditions.
The modern dynamically changing world sets new goals for society and states. And, of course, women are playing an increasingly significant role in addressing them. These include sustainable economic development, the global climate agenda, ecology and environment protection, as well as new approaches to education as a process that accompanies people throughout their lives, and the ambition to build it on more fair and balanced principles of the social support system.
Of course, the coronavirus pandemic and overcoming its consequences have also become a global challenge. All over the world, women doctors and medical workers have come to the forefront of the fight against the pandemic, taking on the hardest work. Millions of people, without any exaggeration millions of people all over the world are grateful to them for saving their lives.
Women, with their keen understanding of the value of life, compassion and mercy, have always had a special mission in healthcare. I am confident that it will remain the same in the future, including in determining further actions in the healthcare sector, pharmaceutics, and protection of health in general, with due account of the lessons of the pandemic.
Women’s activities in searching for responses to global and local challenges, as well as their active involvement in all spheres of life serve common interests and help to discover the human potential at its best. Today it seems to be the key factor for progress and advancement, as well as specific changes for the better all over the world: within separate countries and, as I have already said, on the entire planet.
Traditional family values are of great importance for our country, for the entire Russian society. Oddly enough, this often causes controversy, and we are even criticised in this regard. Of course, with the absolute need to ensure the freedoms of every person, including the freedom of self-identification, nevertheless, I am still convinced that traditional family values are the most important moral support and a guarantee of successful development both in the present and in the future.
Women have a special role in Russian families. The generosity with which they devote themselves to raising children and caring for their loved ones deserves the sincerest gratitude. But at the same time, I would say Russia traditionally respects the business and professional skills of women. And the fact that they are excellent specialists in various industries, responsible and reliable colleagues does not need any additional proof for our citizens.
Once again: the things that are almost breakthroughs for some countries, accompanied by loud campaigns about the rights and freedoms of women, are a long-standing practice and tradition for our country. And we are proud of such modern features of our society. By the way, we – often deservedly – critically assess the Soviet period of our modern history, but it must be admitted that, largely due to the Soviet period, such an atmosphere has developed in society in relation to women.
In Russia, we can see a widespread presence of women in government bodies and outstanding stories of their business success. They make up the majority in the fast-growing creative industry sector – more than 58 percent, as well as in Russian science, where the share of women is almost 40 percent among researchers.
It is quite obvious that in today’s conditions a woman should not have to choose whether she will devote herself to her children and family or focus on her professional ambitions. We proceed precisely from this understanding. That is why Russia constantly creates all the conditions so that after the birth of a child, a woman can start or resume her professional career at any time, achieve success and develop in the job that she likes.
We have done a lot to increase the availability of kindergartens and nurseries. Of course, we should perhaps do even more to improve this situation. We will carry on because it is important to solve the problem of every family.
Moreover, there are programmes of professional training, and advanced training, which can be accessed by women on maternity leave.
We also support families with children who have financial difficulties. Let me remind you that this year a number of new decisions have been adopted, such as assistance to pregnant women and payments to single parents, which, as a rule, are women, mothers in most cases, and there is no point in pretending otherwise.
Over the last few years, we have significantly readjusted the entire system of payments for families with children, made it more effective and intend to continue this work in order to adopt an entire range of understandable and client-friendly social measures to support families until their children finish school. This help and support from the state will make it possible for women to plan their future more confidently.
Of course, on the global scale, a lot more should be done for the full implementation of women’s rights, in order to ensure the possibility of their free, non-discriminatory participation in all spheres of life everywhere. Even in economically developed countries – we follow these discussions and see them – even there, imbalance and inequality in career planning and in wages are often recorded. I closely follow these discussions in the so-called developed economies, and there are enough problems there.
The Eurasian Women’s Forum, as a platform for international dialogue, new initiatives, and development of common approaches to global problems, makes the realistic achievement of the goals you discuss at this forum closer. And I am sure that your personal example, the example of leaders, women who enjoy their well-deserved recognition in all spheres, inspire a lot of people in various countries, millions of people without exaggeration.
I wish you success and fruitful work, as well as happiness, health and joy to you and your families.
Thank you for your attention.