International Day of Families and Sustainable Development
Published on: 15.05.2020
Every year for the last 25 years May 15 has been observed worldwide as the International Day of Families. Today, it gains even more importance as millions of people have not been able to see their families in months due to lockdowns, travel restrictions, or other COVID-19 response measures. On the other hand, many had the opportunity to spend more weeks with their loved ones.
The International Day of Families has the symbol of a red drawing of a heart and house at the center of a green circle. The symbol shows that families are the basic social unit of society that provides shelter and care for all. Families and family policies can contribute to achieving some of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) especially Goal 1, Goal 3, Goal 4, Goal 5, Goal 8, and Goal 16.
This year’s theme is ‘Families in Development: Copenhagen & Beijing+25’. 2020 marks the 25th anniversary of the Copenhagen Declaration and Beijing Platform for Action. According to the United Nations, the 2020 theme keeps the current health crisis on focus.
“The 2020 COVID-19 pandemic brings into sharp focus the importance of investing in social policies protecting the most vulnerable individuals and families. It is the families who bear the brunt of the crisis, sheltering their members from harm, caring for out-of-school children and, at the same time, continuing their work responsibilities,” the UN points out while highlighting the major opportunity that the crisis brings for reshaping the way how our societies and economies function.
The latest UN report on family trends gives major insight into how families around the world are changing and what social measures such change would require.
Based on the report:
- 65 percent of all families are made up of either couple living with children of any age (38 percent) or couples living with both children and extended family members, such as grandparents (27 percent);
- Single-parent households constitute eight percent of the whole and are mostly composed of women with children (84 percent);
In sub-Saharan Africa and Central and Southern Asia, close to one-third of all households include extended family members, but that proportion is shrinking, owing to rural-to-urban migration, among other factors.
- Such changes require social protection measures especially gender-sensitive social protection child protection, economic support, and affordable housing.
Despite the different family types across the world data show that female-headed households, large families, migrant families with low-skilled/educated parents, and families living in rural areas or urban slums face a greater risk of poverty compared to other families.
Experience has shown that addressing family poverty has a positive impact on other SDGs such as achieving better consumption and living conditions (SDG 2), access to health (SDG 3), access to education (SDG 4), gender equality in society and housework (SDG 5), access to employment (SDG 8), reduced inequalities (SDG10), and access to housing programs (SDG 11).
Where you able to be with your family during the pandemic? How has the crisis affected the lives and economies of families in your community?
Richardson, Dominic (2018). Key Findings on Families, Family Policy and the Sustainable Development Goals: Synthesis Report, Innocenti Research ReportUNICEF Office of Research – Innocenti, Florence
Implementation of the objectives of the International Year of the Family and its follow-up processes