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An open dialogue with Natalia Komarova

 4 March 2020, Moscow

What does Russia's only female Governor, Natalia Komarova, think about self-realization? Is career compatible with private life? What is the region's policy towards young families? What is the Governor's position on the demands to ban abortions? What does she do to keep fit? Does she manage to switch off from work and relax?

Natalia Komarova, the Governor of the Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Okrug – Ugra held an open dialogue with the participants of the forum "Women's Health – the Well-Being of the Nation" on the topic "State support of the family – the most important tool for preserving the potential of women's health."

"Does the state need to create special conditions for women's self-realization?" – was the first question asked by Elena Spiridonova, NTV Presenter and the moderator of this discussion.

"It would be wrong to say that it is not necessary. Many countries have legislation that regulates the minimum number of women-parliament members or ministers. But in my opinion, it is more important that a woman has options for personal fulfilment, and this applies not only to the profession," said Natalia Komarova.

The Governor thinks that President Vladimir Putin has set the task of providing children with kindergarten places "not only with the evident goal of the development of children but also to provide women with opportunities for professional development." Natalia explained that today kindergartens in Ugra have the capacity for all the children of 3 to 7 years of age, however they can provide places for only 85% of those who are younger than 3. This is important for mothers who wish to work on their professional fulfilment.

Circumstances can be overcome

Forum participants, including the students from Moscow universities, discussed with the Governor issues relating to prevention of abortions. According to the Head of the region, "termination of pregnancy is a serious barrier to increasing the demographic level in any country."

"In ten years, the number of abortions in our region has decreased by 2.3 times. This is a decent indicator, but we have something to strive for. We are implementing an interdepartmental project "Towards life". Four departments are involved in this work – Healthcare Department, Education and Youth Policy Department, Social Development Department, Labor and Employment Department", said Natalia Komarova, "It aims at personalizing the work with each woman who has planned to terminate a pregnancy. As a result, 16% of them changed their minds in 2019. It turned out that the circumstances which forced them to make the decision to terminate the pregnancy were not insurmountable."

"A person should have a choice"

The authorities are concerned with the declining birth rate in Okrug. 27 thousand babies were born in Ugra in 2014, and only 21 thousand last year. It is well-known that this is a nationwide trend. However there is also good news: the number of families with three or more children is constantly growing in our region. Ugra has been putting an increased effort to support large families in Ugra. The measures taken include Ugra family capital.

"We have planned a significant subsidy increase in 2020", the Governor shared her plans, "Since January 1, the Federal decisions that consider maternity capital subsidies for the first and the second child have come into force, and the Ugra family capital extends to the third and subsequent children."

"Growing up in Ugra"

The Head of the region also mentioned that the support measures included a launch of multicontent plastic cards "Growing up in Ugra". They are given to each child born in the Autonomous Okrug since January 1, 2020. By activating the card, parents get access to Internet resources that concern children upbringing, education, development, and other information, and 20 thousand rubles.

Responding to a question about the support of families with children who have disabilities, the Governor said that two years ago the region developed a programme of comprehensive support for people with autism spectrum disorders and other mental disorders. At the core of this programme is individual approach to providing support for each resident of Ugra that belongs to this group.

"The support system comprises the work of six social departments. After evaluating the results of implementing this system, we added the new measures to the state programme "Accessible environment". Now the support can be provided to other groups of people with disabilities", explained Natalia Komarova, "Ugra also has experience in creating specialized apartments for people with disabilities. They are provided with everything necessary for life. We are currently developing a standardized approach to creating such apartments on the first floors of residential buildings."

As the moderator noted, important decisions were made in the field of additional education in Ugra. The Governor says there is a practice of providing personalized financial certificates for additional education that was ranked the best by the Ministry of Education. More than 237 thousand residents of Ugra 5 to 18 years of age are receiving additional education. Children and their parents can sel ect programmes and organizations of their own choosing.

"This is a fairly effective mechanism," noted Natalia Komarova. 

Personal matters

Questions from the audience did not leave out her private life. Students, for example, were interested in whether the Governor does sports and whether she can quickly switch from work to family.

Natalia Komarova admitted that she is keeping fit with the help of evening home workouts and good genetics.

"I am not a current athlete, but as a student I received a silver badge of “GTO” standard in shooting", the Head of the Region said with a smile.

After years of working in leadership positions, she learned to clear her mind fr om work-related worries as soon as she steps into her home and finds herself in the circle of the closest ones. It's just that her daughter once said to the mother, who looked worried: "No need to frown". And she stopped frowning.


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