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International Day of Families: The Importance of Families Today

On May 15 of each year since 1994, the world has observed the International Day of Families, which was proclaimed under resolution A/RES/47/237 during the UN General Assembly that year.

The holiday demonstrates the importance of families to international communities. It increases the knowledge of the demographic, economic, and social processes that affect families and boosts the awareness regarding issues affecting families worldwide.

A brief history of International Day of Families

In the 1980s, the UN started to give more attention to the issues regarding families. In 1983, the Commission for Social Development passed a resolution on the family’s role in the development process. The resolution calls for the Secretary-General of the UN to intensify the awareness of the public and decision-makers related to the needs and problems of the family, and find more effective ways to meet those needs.

With the growing concern and the continuous recommendations and proposals from member states, December 9, 1989, the United Nations established the International Year of the Family.

Four years later, in 1993, the UN General Assembly created the resolution proclaiming May 15 as the International Day of Families, to focus on making people and governments aware of family-related issues that affect the development of families. The first observance of the holiday was on May 15, 1994.

The Sustainable Development Goals intend to remove abuse, discrimination, poverty, preventable deaths and pay attention to the destruction of the environment. The adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals on September 25, 2015, highlighted the role of families and family-oriented programs and policies in achieving several of the goals.

The International Day of Families recognizes the vital role of the primary family system in creating social unity and peaceful society. The platform encourages policymakers to develop policies to develop a family-nurturing environment. The intent is to make the family a haven for children to ensure the establishment of a functional society in the future.

The institution of the International Day of Families was the response of the UN to the changing social and economic structures affecting the structure and stability of family units in many regions of the world.

Theme for 2020

The theme for 2020 International Day of Families is “Families in Development: Copenhagen & Beijing+25”

It’s been 25 years since the Copenhagen Declaration. It proposes ten commitments by 186 countries to place people instead of the economy as the main interest in reaching the goals of sustainable development. The Declaration likewise pledges to eliminate poverty, encourage social integration, and facilitate productive and full employment, to achieve safe, just and stable societies for everyone.

It is also the 25th anniversary of the Fourth United Nations World Conference on Women in Beijing, where 189 countries adopted the resolutions of the Beijing Declaration and the Platform for Action. This global policy framework defines the rights of women. It represents the guidelines to achieve equality between men and women, using ways and measurable results regarding the issues that affect girls and women.

The issues include:

  • Poverty
  • Healthcare
  • Education and training
  • Economic empowerment
  • Armed conflict
  • Violence against girls and women
  • Women’s human rights
  • Media
  • Environment
  • Power and decision-making
  • The rights of the girl-child
  • Mechanisms to promote the advancement of women

International Day of Families and the COVID-19 crisis

The pandemic caused by COVID-19 brings the significance of committing to social policies to protect vulnerable individuals and families. COVID-19 is one of the most challenging social and health crises the world faces. Families will carry the burden the crisis brings, ensuring that no harm falls on family members, caring for children who cannot go to school, and finding ways to work to feed their families.

The health crisis brought disaster to the world’s socio-economic system. At the same time, it made leaders and individuals think about the family’s value, which many people have forgotten due to modernization. We have gained many social and biological developments over the years, but they overshadowed people’s presence, moralities, and affection towards one another.

The pandemic made people practice social distancing, and many are isolated to contain the spread of the virus. However, most people have their families with them amid the isolation. Despite the hardships, family members provide each other relief and keep them close and protected. In the process, the health crisis urges people to reevaluate their way of thinking about family members before it becomes too late to do anything.

Celebrating the International Day of Families

There is no standard way to celebrate the International Day of Families. The celebration is usually individual. In some countries, local government units organize forums and discussions. Some companies host parties for their employees and their families. Other countries hold celebrations according to the theme set by the United Nations.

Overall, the celebration is often unique to the family. Some spend the day together, doing the activities they all love. Some families hold an open discussion on family-related issues to find solutions for family members to know that they have a support group whenever they encounter problems.

Some families use the day to teach the younger ones the value of community service by doing volunteer work. They want to make their children understand that there are people less fortunate than them.

If you are lucky to be with your family during this home quarantine, it is an opportunity to celebrate the day by being thankful that you are all together, and no one in the family is sick. If you live apart from your other family members, getting in touch with them electronically and digitally is the way to express your love for them.

The importance of families in our society

Through the years, the definition of family changed. Traditionally, a family consists of a married couple and their children. The family can be an extended one if other family members live with them. Today, the definition is more open. A family unit may consist of two people, of the opposite or the same gender. They may or may not be married, and their children may be adopted or born to either one of the parents.

There is too much pressure to live in the modern world. Living with a healthy family today provides several benefits.

  • The family unit helps meet the basic needs of members who are unable to work, such as minors, the disabled, and the elderly. Other family members help provide food, shelter, clean air, and water.
  • Being with a family allows you to belong to someone or something. Family members support one another, especially during difficult times, due to the bond they have.
  • Having a well-functioning family can provide you with financial security as members who work contribute part of what they earn to meet the needs and wants of other family members, pay bills, and take care of different financial needs.
  • A healthy family is a great support system. They can share their achievements and sorrows with family members. More often than not, are the only people who understand you, and the only ones who can give you unconditional love, even if they do not tolerate your wrong actions.

The core of every society is the family unit. Healthy families contribute to making the community healthier. Family and society have a mutual dependence. The family unit is vital in fulfilling the physical and emotional needs of individuals, which in turn contributes to social and economic development.

The family has the potential to become a powerful force for economic, social, cultural, and political change. It is a useful tool for the development, care, and protection of its members.

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