Narine Hakobyan (19) is pictured in the kitchen of the home of her husband's family with her sister-in-law, Lilit Hakobyan (left), and her 2-year-old daughter Angelina (right). Narine and her husband, Suren, have received approximately €1,150 in wedding and baby payments as part of the government's ‘birth-encouragement program’.
Nagorno-Karabakh marked 20 years of self-declared independence in September 2011, yet remains unrecognized by the international community. One of the steps the government is taking in an attempt to achieve respect for the country’s independence, is to encourage an increase in the birth rate, so that the population reaches levels of before the war for secession from Azerbaijan. A ‘birth-encouragement program’ gives cash payments to couples for each child they have. For a young woman to become a wife and a mother, to stay at home and care for her family, is the most honorable and respectable life she can choose for herself.