The Order of Glorious Motherhood

The Order of Glorious Motherhood

Motherhood is seen as the ‘patriotic duty’ of every Mongolian woman.

Mongolia is the most sparsely populated country in the world, with less than two inhabitants per sq. km (in comparison the UK has 272 per sq. km). People are so scarce that the Mongolian Government has been paying couples to procreate and honour women with medals for having large families. In stark contrast to neighbouring China with its one child policy, Mongolia is trying to boost numbers with incentives that were introduced in the 1950s. Fertility rates declined in 1991 when the Soviet Union collapsed and Mongolian life was turned upside down. But since then, largely thanks to these rewards the rate has started to rise. According to the National Statistics Office of Mongolia there are currently (2018) around 3.2million inhabitants - still making it the emptiest country on the planet.

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Tseren, 79 - 10 children, 50 grandchildren. A white Khadag (piece of silk) is given to mothers as an offering to show appreciation and respect.

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Khishigdorj, 73 - 9 children, 48 grandchildren. Livestock outnumber people by roughly 20 to 1.

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Dugerjav, 68 - 8 children, 22 grandchildren. A family portrait in 1961 when Dugerjav (far left) was 11 years old.

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Mainzav, 80 - 12 children, 31 grandchildren. Animal skulls are offered to nature in the hope of reincarnation.

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Badamjav, 68 - 4 children, 12 grandchildren. Four children bring mothers the honour (and a medal) of ‘Second Order of Glorious Motherhood’ and six children the highest honour of ‘First Order of Glorious Motherhood’.