Families—both traditional and non-traditional—are the foundation of society. Some of the most formative years of our lives are spent growing up with our families, so they should be celebrated! And today we do just that.
Founded by the United Nations in 1994, The International Day of Families is observed on May 15 every year to celebrate the importance of families, people, societies and cultures around the world. It’s been around since 1994, with a different family-focused theme each year (past themes have included “Building Families Based on Partnership” and “Families, education and well-being”). So celebrate with us this year, and learn about some of the social, economic and demographic processes affecting families around the world!
Families in Development: Copenhagen & Beijing + 25
This year’s 25th anniversary of Copenhagen Declaration and Beijing Platform for Action comes at a time of one of the most challenging global health and social crises. 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.
Families have become the hub of intergenerational interactions that support us in this crisis. Under economic duress poverty deepens. In times of uncertainty stress increases – often resulting in growing violence against women and children. That is why the support for vulnerable families – those who have lost their income, those in inadequate housing, those with young children, older persons and persons with disabilities – is imperative now more than ever.
Worldwide, women are increasingly taking part in the formal and informal labour force, while continuing to assume a disproportionate burden of the household work in comparison with men, and work-family balance is more difficult to achieve. The imperative of ensuring gender equality in the family is, therefore, gaining more attention.
As the world struggles to respond to the COVID-19 crisis, there is a real opportunity to rethink and transform the way our economies and societies function to foster greater equality for all. In doing so, it is clear that gender equality will not be achievable without greater equality in families, and that on this, as so much else, the Beijing Platform for Action continues to provide a visionary roadmap of where we need to go.
HOW TO OBSERVE INTERNATIONAL DAY OF FAMILIES
- Volunteer with your family
Join in on the global celebration by working together with your family on a project to benefit the community. Need a suggestion? Try Habitat for Humanity: it’s an organisation that builds houses for those in need. Build a house for a family while bonding with yours.
- Reflect on just what family means to you
Family isn’t always blood. It’s the people in your life who want you in theirs. The ones who accept you for who you are. The ones who love you no matter what. So take today to think critically about what family really means to you, and how you can get closer to the people you love. At the end of the day, family is family—no matter what.
- Organise a community family picnic
There might be many families in your neighbourhood that would love to get to know one another but just haven’t figured out the best way to. A picnic is a perfect occasion to bring people together! Plan icebreaker activities to get to know one another better and then enjoy a delicious potluck meal.
WHY INTERNATIONAL DAY OF FAMILIES IS IMPORTANT
- It highlights the importance of family in society
If we have stronger families, we will have stronger schools and stronger communities. A strong family unit can help each member feel more fulfilled and better about themselves and the world. It also provides a real-life example of how the human family can work together to create a better world.
- It reminds you that all families don’t look alike
Every family is different—family can be defined in many different ways, and International Day of Families recognizes that. Some families consist of children; some do not. Some consist of one parent; others more than one. International Day of Families is about more than just celebrating those who share DNA with you—it’s about celebrating all of the people you love.
- It’s an opportunity to have critical conversations
International Day of Families is a time of celebration, but it’s also a time for serious conversations about some of the challenges that families around the world face. Many families are dealing with issues like poverty, lack of health care, employment, and child-rearing. And today, we promote awareness and a better understanding of some of these challenges. Which one will you talk to your family about today?
INTERNATIONAL DAY OF FAMILIES DATES