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United Nations

BACKGROUND

The theme of the observance of the 2016 International Day of Families focuses on Sustainable Development Goal 3: Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages.

Families have a unique role in ensuring health and well-being of children. Parents can improve children’s health outcomes by providing emotional support, ensuring preventive and sick healthcare visits, including timely immunizations and proper treatment in times of illness.

This year’s observance of the International Day of Families is to raise awareness of the role of families and family policies in promoting healthy lives for sustainable future. Academics and practitioners will address issues relating to family environments and work-family balance to improve health outcomes for all family members. Discussions will also focus on the role of parents in youth and children’s well-being, with particular attention to the role of men, as well as intergenerational transfers and the well-being of older adults.

HISTORY OF OBSERVANCE

During the 1980's, the United Nations began focusing attention on the issues related to the family. In 1983, based on the recommendations of the Economic and Social Council, the Commission for Social Development in its resolution on the Role of the family in the development process (1983/23) requested the Secretary-General to enhance awareness among decision makers and the public of the problems and needs of the family, as well as of effective ways of meeting those needs.

In its resolution 1985/29 of 29 May 1985 the Council Invited the General Assembly to consider the possibility of including in the provisional agenda of its forty-first session an item entitled “Families in the development process”, with a view to consider a request to the Secretary-General to initiate a process of development of global awareness of the issues involved, directed towards Governments, intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations and public opinion.

Later, based on the recommendations of the Commission for Social Development formulated in its 30th round of sessions, The Assembly invited all States to make their views known concerning the possible proclamation of an international year of the family and to offer their comments and proposals.

The Council also requested the Secretary-General to submit to the General Assembly at its forty-third session a comprehensive report, based on the comments and proposals of Member States on the possible proclamation of such a year and other ways and means to improve the position and well-being of the family and intensify international co-operation as part of global efforts to advance social progress and development.

In its resolution 44/82 of 9 December 1989, The United Nations General Assembly proclaimed The International Year of the Family. In proclaiming the Year, the General Assembly decided that the major activities for its observance should be concentrated at the local, regional and national levels, assisted by the United Nations system.

The United Nations Commission for Social Development was designated as the preparatory body and the Economic and Social Council as the coordinating body for the Year.

In 1994, General Assembly Resolution A/RES/47/237 proclaimed The International Day of Families, which is observed on the 15th of May every year. This day provides an opportunity to promote awareness of issues relating to families and to increase the knowledge of the social, economic and demographic processes affecting families.

SECRETARY-GENERAL'S MESSAGE FOR 2016

This year’s International Day of Families falls at a time of upheaval and tragedy for families around the world. The rise of violent extremism, the effects of forced displacement, extreme weather events and other challenges are taking a heavy toll on the health and integrity of families in crisis situations. Even in relatively stable societies, families still struggle with violence, discrimination and poverty.

Families are on the frontlines of our global efforts to realize the bold and inclusive 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. They are particularly essential to achieving SDG3, in which all United Nations Member States committed to promoting healthy lives and wellbeing for all at all ages.

Children thrive when they receive love as well as healthcare, education and other basics. During the sensitive time of adolescence, young people need emotional support along with reproductive health information and services. Young lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender people suffer much higher suicide rates than the general population, making their safety and acceptance a matter of public health.

In many societies, women and girls experience discrimination and violence within the family, which can have serious and lifelong effects on their health and wellbeing. Family life is also crucial to the health of older people, who stay active and healthy when their contributions are appreciated in the family and community.

Governments must support the crucial role of families in all their diverse forms. They should provide access to reproductive health services so that parents can decide on the timing and size of their families. Maternal healthcare and paternal leave are also vital to enable parents to give their newborns the best possible start in life.

I call on governments, businesses, institutions and other partners to recognize that caregiving is an essential part of family life. Everyone needs care from family members at some point in their lives – and all should be able to provide that care when the need arises.

Promoting supportive family environments and positive parenting through policies and laws can help families raise healthy, happy children who can grow into valued, productive adults.

Leaving no one behind means leaving no family behind.

On this International Day of Families, let us resolve to advance sustainable development by creating a supportive environment where all family members of all ages can realize their potential to contribute to our world.

Ban Ki-moon

EVENTS

The annual observance of the International Day of Families reflects the importance the international community attaches to families and is an opportunity to demonstrate support to families. Governments, non-governmental organizations, educational institutions and individuals are encouraged to organize observances of the Day to raise awareness of issues relating to families and increase the knowledge of the social, economic and demographic processes affecting families. Such observances can promote a better understanding of the functions, strengths and needs of families.
2016 observance held in New York
Panel Discussion: “Men in Charge? Gender Equality and Children’s Rights in Contemporary Families”

Thursday, 12 May 2016, 1:15-2:45 UN HQ New York Conference Room 12

International panel of experts will address the role of families and family policies for the achievement of Sustainable Development Goal 3: Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages.

  • Safe and supporting family environment and children’s well-being
  • Work-family balance and health outcomes for all family members
  • Men in families and children’s health and educational outcomes
  • Families, parents and youth well-being
  • Families, intergenerational transfers and well-being of older adults

All are invited.

For further information please contact Ms. Renata Kaczmarska, Focal Point on the Family, DPSD/DESA at kaczmarska@un.org, tel. 1 212 963 4596.

Inter-Governmental Marital Committee © 2016. All rights reserved.