Women, motherhood and defense of Fatherland. Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko presented state awards and general’s shoulder boards on March 7, 2017. The solemn ceremony at the Independence Palace in Minsk symbolically united two popular celebrations, which are the Day of Fatherland Defenders and Women’s Day. President Lukashenko remarked that even though men and women have different roles in the society and in a family, true harmony is created only by their joint efforts.
Irina Parfenyuk’s happiness is fivefold. As many as five children, a mum and a dad. Altogether seven of them. A real family. The eldest of her children is her daughter; she is 14 and studies at a cadet school.
Irina Parfenyuk, a mother of many children:
It isn’t any harder than having one child. When they are together in such a big team, they are self-reliant, they help one another, it is interesting for them. I cans say for sure that we are given attention to. A couple of years people were skeptical about large families, now they are not.
Olga Parfenyuk came to the ceremony in Minsk from Brest.
Olga is 28, and she already has five children. And she doesn’t deny the fact that she might have more children in the future.
Olga Kotova, a mother of many children:
I get positive emotions and additional energy from my children. It is great to see them happy.
There are 80,000 families with many children in Belarus today. Some four years ago there were only 60,000. The phenomenon of a family with many children is the government’s policy.
An excursion around the Independence Palace was organized for the 33 participants of the ceremony.
General’s shoulder boards were also awarded on March 7, 2017.
Alexander Karev, Deputy Commander, Chief of Aviation of the Republic of Belarus:
My youngest son is a pilot, he followed in my footsteps, and the eldest son takes the lead of me, when I am up in the air. Both of my sons are in aviation. I suppose that aviation has perspectives. I didn’t put any pressure on my sons.
Alexander Shkirenko , Head of the Main Organizing and Mobilization Department , Deputy Head of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Republic of Belarus:
The rank of a general obliges more, than an award for something that has already been done. The higher the rank, the higher the position, the more responsibility.
The youngest administrative building of Belarus made it into world history, when the Normandy Four negotiations were held inside it.
The guests of the ceremony were shown the Palace, where economical meetings take place, a chandelier, which is among the largest lighting equipment in the world. The last point is a room guarded by the silent drill team.
The Awarding Hall is often referred to as the most important. This is where Belarus President awards medals, orders, ranks and shoulder boards to the most dignified people of Belarus. The celebratory atmosphere is created by lighting equipment only.
This is Irina Parfenyuk receiving her award from Alexander Lukashenko. There are 20 more mothers like her in this hall.
The attitude towards large families has changed dramatically for the better in Belarus over the last two decades. The times have gone, when it was common to think that many children are born in disadvantaged families. Many children today mean a guaranteed social status by the government. Such families have a lot of benefits in Belarus. It is easier to get a loan in the bank and accommodation is guaranteed. The family capital for the third and next children is $10,000. Belarus placed its bets on this family model at the beginning of the early noughties.
Alexander Lukashenko, President of the Republic of Belarus:
Perhaps, the most honourable thing is to be awarded general’s shoulder boards in front of women. In front of women, who have five and more children and are so young and beautiful. Well done to you. You are carrying out your major mission. It is the aim of my entire policy, there should be no less than 20 million people in Belarus. Then we will be strong as never before. Then nobody will scowl at Belarus. My attitude towards the tittle of a professor or the rank of a general is from the people, you know it. Belarus doesn’t have many generals. However, I am not planning to increase the number of generals because I do not want to belittle this rank. If you are presented general’s shoulder boards (they are all awarded by the President himself), then, perhaps, this person is special.
Having a big family is big happiness. The bigger the nation, the more possibilities and confidence people have in today and tomorrow. Some time ago, families with many children were typical for remote places, now there are more than 11,000 families like this in Minsk. As many as 537 mothers with many children from Minsk were awarded the Orders of Mothers since 1996