Helping young mothers back into the labor market

By Natalya Paramonova

Kommersant–The “Mother Works” project, which started as a charity created by Olesya Kashaeva, has been up and running for four years. When she became a mother, Kashaeva realized how many hindrances this new status could bring. As soon as a woman becomes a mother, she loses 60 percent of her income, while government child allowances do not cover the minimum subsistence levels for a mother and her child. Moreover, parents can only leave their children in nursery school from the age of three years, meaning that many mothers do not have the opportunity to work full-time. Since women become mothers earlier in Russia than in the EU, the percentage of 20-24 year-old women who are not working, studying or participating in any professional training courses currently constitutes 14.4 percent of the female population (in the EU this is 10.6 percent), according to data from the Russian Federal State Statistics Service in the Higher School of Economics.

Olesya decided that her project would provide both support and employment for mothers; as a charity that is aware of the problems they face, provides an opportunity for them to study and offers them a means to earn an income. A woman can study a new specialization to enable her to find a remote job or work part-time. The “Mother Works” project also helps mothers launch their own businesses.

The “Mother Works” project is currently based around co-working and an educational center, and working groups operate via a social network and a sewing studio, “Mothers Themselves.” Initial investment in this social business was 70,000 rubles and the educational part and co-working program have now paid for themselves, but the “Mothers Themselves” workshop remains unprofitable.

However, Olesya Kashaeva believes that the most difficult aspect, that of creating and developing “Mother Works,” has already been achieved and that within two months “Mothers Themselves” will start to bring in a profit. In total, there are 3,500 women involved in “Mother Works,” of whom 70 percent believe that their financial position has improved thanks to their participation in the project.