Pretty much every mother deserves a medal. But now in Russia, you can really, actually get one. You just have to have 10 freaking kids — and there are some other rules as well.
This week, evil villain and Russian President Vladimir Putin released an official decree that revives a Soviet-Era “Mother Heroine” award for any Russian woman who bears and raises 10 or more children. Women who qualify will receive a five-pointed star medal and one million rubles (about $16,645).
The decree comes as Russia faces an aging and declining population, only made worse by the country’s ongoing war with Ukraine, as well as a new push by the government to re-instill “traditional values.”
There are a few catches to the reward, however. The mother must give each of her kids the “appropriate level of care for health, education, physical, spiritual and moral development,” according to CNBC, though how that requirement is evaluated isn’t clear. Also, a full 10 must be alive at the time of the award, unless some have been killed while serving the military, while being a civic servant, or in a terrorist attack. Fair enough. And your tenth baby has to be at least one year old.
The title and medal was given out in Russia from 1944 until 1991, when the Soviet Union Collapsed — why not relive old times? It was established by Joseph Stalin after the country’s population plummeted by 42 million people during World War II.
The super-moms will be equivalent rank to “Heroes of the Russian Federation,” who are celebrated for their bravery, and “Heroes of Labor,” who have served the state.
Russia’s workforce has been declining since 2010, and the general population has been declining at a record rate of about 86,000 a month since the country escalated its war with Ukraine in February 2022. According to CNN, Googling “How to leave Russia” is at a 10-year high.
It’s also not clear how many Russian soldiers have been lost during the war, adding to the dropping population.
Putin has long been trying to encourage large families, both through his public speeches and through offering financial incentives from the state. At the same time, though, Russia struggles to give moms, kids, and families other types of support that would encourage population growth — for example, the country greatly lacks domestic violence laws. Women are also treated as second-class citizens in many ways — they are barred from over 100 types of jobs, they face one of the largest wage gaps in the world, and are far more likely to live in poverty than men.
In other words, it would be great to get a medal, but it would be better to get a whole bunch of other things first.