The principle of equal opportunities must be realized with regard to children!

The principle of equal opportunities must be realized with regard to children!

The Statement
of the Commission on Gender Equality of the Confederation of Labour of Russia
on the International Children’s Day

On the eve of the International Children's Day, we want to draw attention to one of the most important problems of families with working parents: the lack of real social assistance for families with children, in particular, social benefits for children aged 1.5 to 3 years. Now, for a huge number of children under 3 years old, to get a place in the kindergarten is impossible: in most of the Russian towns nursery groups are absolutely lacking. According to the Education Committee of the State Duma in September 2016, about 400,000 children under three years old were awaiting their turns to get places to kindergartens.

It is often when a kindergarten is too far from the child's place of residence in cities and towns, not to mention the countryside. In the process of optimization, kindergartens for children with special health-care needs were converted into ordinary pre-school institutions for all children, which also made it impossible for the first to attend kindergartens.

However, full coverage of preschool institutions will not solve the problem finally. Not all children from 1.5 to 3 years old can attend kindergartens for health reasons or because of their psychological unpreparedness. Babysitting services are not available for most Russian families. In most cases, a babysitter expects to receive for her services the average salary in the region, which makes her hiring impossible for all workers except for the highly paid ones.

All this significantly complicates the attendance of work of one of the parents. Consequently, the family in the best case experiences financial difficulties, and at worst is below the poverty line. Particularly vulnerable are incomplete families, families with several children, since social assistance to families, as a rule, does not allow to increase their incomes.

The implementation of the so-called president’s "May decree"  to provide all children aged 3 with kindergartens led to the fact that in large and developing cities, where a lot of young people live and where queues in kindergartens were especially long,  a lot of nursery groups were closed in 2014—2015. The Moscow Department of Education illegally restricted the rights of children without a permanent registration in Moscow: in principle, they cannot get a place in a pre-school institution, formally being in a queue that does not move.

In the overwhelming majority of cases, a mother, who has already interrupted her work career for more than a year and a half, has been on parental leave after that. Forced extension of leave up to 3 years makes it even more difficult for her to return to work, reduces her opportunities on the labor market. Russian legislation allows to fire a woman right after returning from the maternity leave without giving her opportunities for retraining or getting other vacancies. The unemployment benefit, which she can get, will be from 0.8 to 4.5 thousand rubles and will begin to decrease after 3 months. Employers often view a woman with children as an "uncomfortable worker" who cannot be involved in overtime work.

The current situation with social protection puts a woman and children in total dependence from her husband or other relatives and does not allow her to get out of the situation of domestic violence if she was in it. The lack of real social assistance for families with children generates seizures of children from families which  are appeared to be below the poverty line. The problem of the lack of support is especially actual in the situation of a reduction in the financing of the education and health system, as a result of which free social services are becoming less available.

We believe that the principle of equal opportunities should be implemented with the respect to children. No references to economic problems can justify the situation when in modern Russia more than a third of the poor are young families with two children. 

On the International Children's Day, we call for the soonest reconsideration of the state's social policy aimed at helping parents with children. Without the protection of children from social ill-being, without providing equal starting opportunities, it is impossible to develop progress in the society. The first steps should include the extension of the payment of childcare allowance up to 3 years, the expansion of the network and the variability of pre-school institutions, the continuing increase in the amount of social benefits for the people in need, with the output within five years to achieve a subsistence level for each family member.

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