United Nations officials are using this year's International Day of Families to highlight the vital role that these critical social units found in every society play in achieving globally agreed development goals and advancing a better world for all.
“As we commemorate this year's International Day of Families, we recognize the meaningful contributions that families make to advancing the mission of the United Nations,” Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in his message for the Day, observed annually on 15 May.
“By providing economic and emotional sustenance to their members, families can raise productive, caring citizens committed to the common good. Strong, well-functioning families, whatever form they may take, can help reduce poverty, improve the wellbeing of mothers, promote gender equality and uphold human rights.”
This year's Day marks the 20th anniversary of the International Year of the Family and offers an opportunity to refocus on the role of families in development, particularly in the achievement of internationally agreed development goals.
Mr. Ban called for mobilizing the world's families as countries strive to usher in a more sustainable future, achieve the anti-poverty targets known as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), shape a new development agenda and combat climate change.
“Let us strive to strengthen these small but critical units found in every society so that we may advance as one human family toward greater progress,” he said.
Guy Ryder, Director-General of the UN International Labour Organization (ILO), said in his statement for the Day that decent work is a key link in the chain connecting families and development.
“Work-related policies and practices play a major role in creating family-supportive environments which, in turn, yield benefits for the world of work and society,” he said.
Mr. Ryder noted that today's families are diverse, defying traditional models such as those based on a male breadwinner and jobs for life. There are now many single parent households – often women, and grandparent-headed households.
“In their different shapes and sizes, families are active agents of development. Yet their contribution – actual and potential – is often undervalued and inadequately supported, and many families are under severe pressure,” he said.
ILO is stressing decent work for women and men, stressing that this assures a better deal for families and it enables families to help build a better future for all.