Archivo de la etiqueta: family

Volver a los fundamentos de occidente

 por Guillermo Arquero, historiador

       Que la cultura occidental está en crisis parece fuera de toda duda. Europa se encuentra en el epicentro de este declive. El caso de la cultura occidental resulta peculiar a tenor del carácter endógeno de su crisis; mientras otras culturas han atravesado momentos dramáticos o decadentes como consecuencia de la irrupción de otras civilizaciones o del colapso y agotamiento de la misma, en Occidente esta crisis se ha producido por la autocrítica y la negación de algunos de sus fundamentos, además del desarrollo de determinadas ideas que la han llevado a un callejón sin salida. Es ante todo un problema de ideas y valores, que luego ha llevado a otro de índole biológico, incluso. En efecto, las bajas tasas de natalidad europeas responden, en buena medida, a una crisis moral –ligada a una concepción antropológica desvinculada de la naturaleza real de la persona− en la que la institución de la familia ha sido la mayor perjudicada.

        Aunque muchos no lo quieran reconocer, la civilización europea es de matriz cristiana (no tiene ello que ver directamente con que un europeo sea creyente o no), si bien la sociedad actual se ha separado de esta raíz. El filósofo francés Michel Onfray (muy alejado de planteamientos cristianos) afirma que “la civilización judeocristiana europea se encuentra en fase terminal”, y añade[1]:

La potencia de una civilización casa siempre con la potencia de la religión que la legitima. Cuando la religión está en fase ascendente, la civilización lo está igualmente; cuando se encuentra en fase descendente, la civilización decae; cuando la religión muere, la civilización fallece con ella. El ateo que soy ni se ofusca ni se alegra por ello: lo constato, como lo haría un médico con una descamación o una fractura, un infarto o un cáncer.

         Onfray hace un paralelismo entre este proceso y la construcción de la Sagrada Familia de Barcelona. Para él, es el mejor símbolo de lo que sucede en nuestra civilización: ha quedado inacabada, no se ha podido terminar, ya no hay fuerza vital para ello.

       Sin embargo, se le pueden poner muchos reparos al filósofo francés, entre ellos que ignora el valor de toda la tradición europea, ve su historia como si fuera la vitrina de un vetusto museo, lo analiza desde el presentismo Si no, se daría cuenta de que las grandes catedrales góticas de su Francia natal, por ejemplo, tardaron decenios, cuando no siglos, en concluirse. Sus constructores eran conscieImagen relacionadantes del tiempo que les llevaría, y entendían que iniciaban algo que debía perdurar. Tenían una visión distinta del tiempo y de la historia humana, donde no hay sólo una comunicación con las personas coetáneas, sino del pasado y del futuro. Ello tiene mucho que ver con la visión de la ciencia histórica de Marc Bloch, que, lejos de concebir la historia como ciencia del pasado, la veía como el análisis de la realidad humana en su desarrollo en el tiempo, de manera que se une el estudio del mundo de los que ya vivieron y murieron con el presente de los vivos en un mismo estudio [2].

         El problema no es sólo religioso, sino que la racionalidad de Occidente ha entrado en crisis. Eso ha llevado al hombre actual a vivir en un estado de perplejidad, según dice el filósofo Jorge Úbeda, al no haber conseguido la cultura occidental, desde la Ilustración, llegar al proyecto que ésta tenía de conocer y comprender absolutamente la verdad mediante la razón. Según este pensador, no es necesariamente la razón humana la que ha fracasado, sino la concepción del tiempo como matriz para la consecución de los objetivos y metas de la humanidad[3]. Lo que hace Onfray a propósito de la Sagrada Familia.

        Visto así, aunque es innegable la crisis (y que se avecinan tiempos de profundos cambios, si no inmediatos, ya se verá en dos o tres generaciones), Occidente bebe de unas fuentes que no se acaban: la cultura clásica y el cristianismo. No son cuestiones del pasado (concepto tan mal entendido, como enseñaba Marc Bloch), sino que están muy vivas. El problema es que, en cierta manera, nos negamos a beber de sus aguas. Pero no nos queda más remedio. Volver a las fuentes no significa retrotraernos a épocas ya pasadas, sino afrontar nuestra época renovando aquello que nos ha conformado, partiendo de esas raíces, como bien recodara Juan Pablo II el 9 de noviembre de 1982 en Santiago de Compostela [4]:

Desde Santiago, te lanzo, vieja Europa, un grito lleno de amor: Vuelve a encontrarte. Sé tú misma. Descubre tus orígenes. Aviva tus raíces. Revive aquellos valores auténticos que hicieron gloriosa tu historia y benéfica tu presencia en los demás continentes. Reconstruye tu unidad espiritual, en un clima de pleno respeto a las otras religiones y a las genuinas libertades. Da al César lo que es del César y a Dios lo que es de Dios. No te enorgullezcas por tus conquistas hasta olvidar sus posibles consecuencias negativas. No te deprimas por la pérdida cuantitativa de tu grandeza en el mundo o por las crisis sociales y culturales que te afectan ahora. Tú puedes ser todavía faro de civilización y estímulo de progreso para el mundo.

         Europa y Occidente, si bien están en crisis, tienen en sí el germen de la renovación, gracias a sus hondas raíces. Hay quienes no concuerdan en absoluto con esto, aunque reconocen que Occidente se funda en el mundo griego. Es muy elocuente el título de la profesora Teresa Oñate Los orígenes de la filosofía en Grecia: viaje al inicio de Occidente (Dykinson, 2004). Ciertamente, esta filósofa difiere mucho de lo que aquí se plantea, pues para ella el pitagorismo, el platonismo y el monoteísmo judeocristiano malograron la aportación de los primeros filósofos griegos (incluyendo Aristóteles, que habría sido tergiversado en los siglos de la Cristiandad).

        Sin embargo, ha sido la descristianización de la cultura occidental (y previamente la llamada deshelenización del cristianismo planteada por la Reforma Protestante desde el XVI, que alumbró la Modernidad) lo que la ha llevado a un callejón sin salida, a un desequilibrio, como se desequilibra una silla a la que se le arranca una de sus patas. Volver la vista a la cultura cristiana medieval para tomar ideas y valores en el tiempo presente (con los aportes positivos de los últimos siglos) puede llevarnos a solucionar este Resultado de imagen de bruno latourtiempo de perplejidad. Síntoma de ello es un reciente artículo titulado “La modernidad está acabada”. Se trata de una entrevista al intelectual Bruno Latour, donde el autor (hablando de ecología) señala, al referirse a Europa, que “aquí hemos conservado la familia, los paisajes, las ciudades, los árboles… [Europa] consiste en cultivar y extender estos valores. Y sí, estamos volviendo, el hombre hoy busca sus raíces por todas partes”[5]. Aunque la conservación de la familia se nos presente como bastante discutible, el hecho de la vuelta a las raíces se manifiesta notorio. En efecto, del mismo modo que se puede regenerar la biosfera frente a los desastres de un crecimiento descontrolado e injusto, se puede regenerar la cultura.

             El lector se dará cuenta de la enormidad de esta cuestión, y de la imposibilidad de tratarlo en el presente artículo. Por dejar al menos un planteamiento que sea interesante, cabe traer a colación el aporte de dos intelectuales: Giovanni Reale y Vicente Rodríguez Casado. Sobre el primero, sobran las palabras de presentación. En el caso del segundo, me gustaría resaltar la visión que dio a la historia como “legado”. Para la docencia que impartió en la Universidad de Piura (donde dejó un gran recuerdo)[6] escribió tres libros, cada uno de ellos sobre una etapa histórica, que llevan por título El legado de la Antigüedad, El legado de la Cristiandad y El legado de la Modernidad. Responden sin duda a una visión sintética de la historia. Lo que tienen en común Reale y Rodríguez Casado es la importancia dada al proceso de la Modernidad (ya muerta según Latour y en realidad para casi todo el mundo, al hablar de la Posmodernidad) como inicio de una crisis que hoy vivimos de lleno.

        Giovanni Reale tiene una visión opuesta a la de Teresa Oñate. Para él, Sócrates y Platón supusieron una revolución que llevó a sentar importantes pilares de lo que luego se conocería como Europa[7], con un cambio en el orden epistemológico y moral. Siguiendo a Gadamer, Reale plantea que filosofía y ciencia no se pueden separar (como demuestra en una de sus últimas obras[8]), precisamente lo que se ha hecho en nuestra contemporaneidad. En efecto, frente a esta unidad que se daba desde Grecia, a partir de la revolución científica del XVII se ha tendido a confundir la ciencia con la técnica y la verdad con la utilidad. Y ello no está en la raíz de la propia revolución, pues pensemos que Galileo, antes que nada, se consideraba un filósofo, como bien demostraba en escritos tales como Il saggiatore o la Lettera a Madama Cristina di Lorena granduchessa di Toscana. Es evidente, leyendo a Reale, que se debería volver a la unidad de la ciencia que teorizó el Círculo de Viena y una vuelta la metafísica, que hoy, por desgracia, “cuando no incita a la cólera, suscita risas sarcásticas”[9].

          Por su parte, Vicente Rodríguez Casado planteó en una conferencia pronunciada en el Palacio Municipal de la ciudad de Piura, el 16 de agosto de 1974, titulada Técnica y nuevo humanismo Resultado de imagen de vicente rodríguez casadosocial, una serie de ideas muy relevantes para el caso que nos ocupa. Más centrada en la historia que en la filosofía, su visión del proceso de transformación de la cultura europea es cercana a la de Reale. El caso de Galileo fue para el historiador un momento en el que, desde los planteamientos católicos, no se supo salvar aquella contradicción –sólo aparente− entre razón y fe.

            Ciertamente, era sólo un espejismo, pues a día de hoy podemos decir que el caso Galileo es bien conocido. Se trató de un error del tribunal que lo condenó, no de la Iglesia, ni mucho menos de la cultura cristiana. Recientemente, Carmelo López-Arias ha publicado un artículo sobre el análisis del converso Frank Sherwood Taylor respecto a este caso, que es totalmente iluminador[10]. Sin embargo, no hubo una respuesta satisfactoria ante las novedades de la ciencia. Rodríguez Casado indica cómo el pensamiento católico de la Modernidad resultó en parte baldío frente a la vía abierta por la Reforma protestante y Descartes “al no llegar los pensadores católicos de la segunda mitad del siglo XVII y del XVIII a la talla de los nuevos adversarios”[11].

           Occidente, como mostró José Luis Comellas en su obra El último cambio de siglo: gloria y crisis de Occidente 1870-1914, (Ariel, 2000) ya percibió las contradicciones (sobre todo en el campo científico) de una ciencia devenida en técnica, un mito del progreso (esa indebida concepción del tiempo al que aludía Úbeda) y un aparente fracaso de la razón que ha llevado a la perplejidad actual. En nuestros tiempos “la absolutización de la ciencia (aquella que declarara el propio Galileo)[12] y de la técnica ha alimentado en el hombre su ilusión de dominio; pero el hombre no ha sabido crecer espiritualmente en la misma proporción”[13]. Habiendo hecho el diagnóstico, lejos de entregarnos al pesimismo podemos plantear una renovación cultural y un progreso positivo sin volver la espalda a las fuentes de la tradición clásica y cristiana. Espero, en futuras entregas, profundizar en distintos campos de este enorme horizonte.

[1] “Michel Onfray, el filósofo superventas que irrita y fascina a Francia”, por Marc Bassets en El País, (28/02/2018) consultado en www.elpais.org en febrero de 2019.

[2] BLOCH, M., Introducción a  la Historia, México: Fondo de Cultura Económica, 1952, capítulo 1, punto 7.

[3] Úbeda Gómez, Jorge, La infancia y el filósofo. Entrada y salida de la perplejidad presente, Madrid: Ediciones Encuentro, 2012

[4] Citado en el artículo “Europa, vuelve a encontrarte, sé tú misma”, publicado en Aceprensa el 8 de noviembre de 2012, consultado en www.aceprensa.com en febrero de 2019.

[5] Entrevista de Elena Pita a Bruno Latour, publicada en El Mundo, en su edición digital, el 19 de febrero de 2019, consultado ese mismo día.

[6] Para un conocimiento más exhaustivo de este autor, recomendamos Cañellas, Antonio; Olivera, César, Vicente Rodríguez Casado. Pensamiento y acción de un intelectual (1918-1990), Madrid, Ediciones 19, 2018.

[7] Vid. el capítulo  “La mentalidad especulativa de Grecia como  primer fundamento de Europa”, en Reale, Giovanni, Raíces culturales y espirituales de Europa, Barcelona: Herder, 2005, pp. 88 ss.

[8] Storia del pensiero filosofico e scientifico (2012)

[9] Reale, Giovanni, Raíces culturales y espirituales de Europa, Barcelona: Herder, 2005, p. 200.

[10] “Frank Sherwood Taylor, el científico agnóstico que quiso ser católico tras estudiar el caso Galileo”, publicado en Religión en Libertad el 7 de febrero de 2019, consultado en febrero de 2019.

[11] Ibid, p. 18.

[12] Véase el artículo del profesor Luis Suárez Fernández en https://www.larazon.es/historico/3348-el-error-de-galileo-por-luis-suarez-OLLA_RAZON_464536

[13] Reale, Giovanni, Raíces culturales y espirituales de Europa, Barcelona: Herder, 2005, p. 183

Inclusive and responsive protection: United Nations Family Resolution 2018

by José A. Vázquez, UN Representative of IFFD

One more year, the Third Committee of the United Nations 73rd Session of the General Assembly approved the draft resolution titled ‘Follow‑up to the twentieth anniversary of the International Year of the Family and beyond’. The proposal was approved by consensus and without a vote on November 16th, 2018.

By its terms, the General Assembly encourages Governments to enact family‑oriented policies for poverty reduction, promote work‑family balance as conducive to the well‑being of children, invest in family policies that promote strong intergenerational interaction, provide universal and gender‑sensitive social protection systems, support the United Nations trust fund on family activities, and strengthen cooperation with civil society in the implementation of family policies.

The draft resolution was introduced by the Group of 77 and China [1], joined by Belarus, Kazakhstan, Russian Federation, Uzbekistan and Turkey.

The representative of Egypt, speaking on behalf of the Group of 77, reaffirmed the importance of the International Year of the Family and stressed that the draft can promote well‑being for all, empower women and girls, and end violence against them, as it encourages Governments to make every effort to fulfill the International Year.

The representative of Mexico said that while the family, as a fundamental core, has a variable composition depending on the country, in Mexico there are a multiplicity of families that make up society, and the Government fully respects gender diversity, where all families have state protection.

After it was approved, the representative of Austria, on behalf of the European Union, attached importance to the family, noting the crucial role of caregivers and the value of intergenerational relationships, and adding that families strengthen society, as they are living, evolving entities. As a consequence, various types of families exist and it is critical that nobody is left behind. [2]

I reproduce in this paper the approved text [3], with some notes on the previous Report of the Secretary General supporting it [4].

UN General Assembly Resolution on the
‘Follow-up to the twentieth anniversary of the International Year of the Family and beyond’

The General Assembly,

Recalling its resolutions […] concerning the proclamation of, preparations for and observance of the International Year of the Family and its tenth and twentieth anniversaries,

Recognizing that the preparations for and observance of the twentieth anniversary of the International Year in 2014 provided a useful opportunity to continue to raise awareness of the objectives of the International Year for increasing cooperation on family issues at all levels and for undertaking concerted action to strengthen family-centered policies and programmes as part of an integrated comprehensive approach to development,

Recognizing also that the objectives of the International Year of the Family and its follow-up processes, especially those relating to family policies in the areas of poverty, work-family balance and intergenerational issues, with attention given to the rights and responsibilities of all family members, can contribute to ending poverty, ending hunger, ensuring a healthy life and promoting well-being for all at all ages, promoting lifelong learning opportunities for all, ensuring better education outcomes for children, including early childhood development and education, enabling access to employment opportunities and decent work for parents and caregivers, achieving gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls and eliminating all forms of violence, in particular against women and girls, and supporting the overall quality of life of families, including families in vulnerable situations, so that family members can realize their full potential, as part of an integrated comprehensive approach to development,

Acknowledging that the family related provisions of the outcomes of the major United Nations conferences and summits and their follow-up processes continue to provide policy guidance on ways to strengthen family centered components of policies and programmes as part of an integrated comprehensive approach to development,

Recognizing the continuing efforts of Governments, the United Nations system, regional organizations and civil society, including academic institutions, to fulfill the objectives of the twentieth anniversary of the International Year at the national, regional and international levels,

Acknowledging that the International Year of the Family and its follow-up processes have served as catalysts for a number of initiatives at the national and international levels, including many family policies and programmes to reduce poverty and hunger and promote the well-being of all at all ages, and can boost development efforts, contribute to better outcomes for children and help to break the intergenerational transfer of poverty in support of the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development,

Acknowledging also that strengthening intergenerational relations, through such measures as promoting intergenerational living arrangements and encouraging extended family members to live in close proximity to each other, has been found to promote the autonomy, security and well-being of children and older persons, and that initiatives to promote involved and positive parenting and to support the role of grandparents have been found to be beneficial in advancing social integration and solidarity between generations, as well as in promoting and protecting the human rights of all family members,

  1. Takes note of the report of the Secretary-General;
  • After the introduction (num. 1-4) and the new frameworks to strengthen national institutions (num. 5-10), the Report focuses on the objectives of the International Year of the Family: poverty reduction (num. 11-25), work-family balance (num. 26-44) and intergenerational solidarity (num. 45-58), the need to promote research and awareness-raising on them (num. 59-67), processes at the United Nations system (num. 68-97) and civil society initiatives (num. 98-105).
  • The conclusions (num. 106-114) confirm the improvement made by many Member States on all these issues and give way to new recommendations on implementing family oriented policies and programmes, reinforcing the cooperation with civil society, academic institutions and the private sector, promoting research and impact assessment studies and sharing good practices (n. 115).
  1. Encourages Governments to continue their efforts to implement the objectives of the International Year of the Family and its follow-up processes and to develop strategies and programmes aimed at strengthening national capacities to address national priorities relating to family issues and to step up their efforts, in collaboration with relevant stakeholders, to implement those objectives, in particular in the areas of fighting poverty and hunger and ensuring the well-being of all at all ages;
  1. Invites Member States to invest in a variety of inclusive family oriented policies and programmes, which take into account the different needs and expectations of families, as important tools for, inter alia, fighting poverty, social exclusion and inequality, promoting work-family balance and gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls and advancing social integration and intergenerational solidarity, to support the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development;
  • In El Salvador, ‘Programa Nuestros Mayores Derechos’ seeks to create a culture in which older persons are autonomous and respected. The ‘Comunida­des Solidarias Rurales’ programme provides a basic universal pension for older persons and promotes intergenerational exchanges (n. 48).
  • A panel discussion, organized The Department of Economic and Social Affairs of the Secretariat, through its Division for Social Policy and Development, in partnership with the International Federation for Family Development, focused on the topic ‘Inclusive Cities and Sustainable Families’ (n. 96).
  1. Encourages Member States to continue to enact inclusive and responsive family oriented policies for poverty reduction in line with the main objectives of the twentieth anniversary of the International Year, to confront family poverty and social exclusion, recognizing the multidimensional aspects of poverty, focusing on inclusive and quality education and lifelong learning for all, health and well-being for all at all ages, full and productive employment, decent work, social security, livelihoods and social cohesion, including through gender- and age-sensitive social protection systems and measures, such as child allowances for parents and pension benefits for older persons, and to ensure that the rights, capabilities and responsibilities of all family members are respected;
  • The mention to the ‘multidimensional aspects of poverty’ should be understood in the context of the Global Multidimensional Poverty Index, developed by the Oxford Poverty & Human Development Initiative and the UN Development Programme. More information available at: https://ophi.org.uk/multidimensional-poverty-index/. 
  • The briefing ‘Leaving no child behind: promoting youth inclusion through quality education for all’, organized by the International Federation for Family Development in cooperation with the Permanent Mission of Qatar at the UN Headquarters, advocated for the importance of quality child education for responsible citizenship (n. 84). 
  • As mentioned in the Report, Colombia has implemented a national public policy to strengthen families (‘Política Pública Nacional de Apoyo y Fortalecimiento a las Familias’), and ‘Más Familias en Acción’ (More families in action) offers monetary incentives in education and health for vulnerable families with children, while its ‘Ingreso para la Prosperidad Social’ (Income for Social Prosperity Programme) seeks to increase levels of education for heads of households in poverty (n. 15). 
  • In Chile, the child protection programme entitled ‘Chile Crece Contigo’ (Chile grows with you) recognizes the dimensions of child development (n. 35) and in Rwanda a month-long family campaign has been organized on an annual basis since 2011. (n. 66).
  • The recently updated family grant programme ‘Bolsa Família’ in Brazil complements the income of more than 50 million families in the country (n. 76).

Other examples include (n. 77):

  • Paraguay: conditional cash transfers are provided to households living in poverty, 70 per cent of which are headed by women;
  • Sweden invests in family policies that focus on supporting early childhood care and education, which it considers the most efficient way to fight poverty;
  • Thailand has established a child support scheme for vulnerable families which recently benefited 190,000 children;
  • In 2016, Poland introduced a programme entitled ‘Rodzina 500 Plus’, which offers monetary transfers for families with two or more children to increase the economic stability of households and respond to demographic challenges;
  • In the Islamic Republic of Iran, assistance to households headed by women is offered;
  • In Malawi, conditional cash transfers for vulnerable households aim to reduce poverty, improve nutrition and encourage the enrolment of children in school;
  • Productive safety nets in Zimbabwe provide employment in community infrastructure projects for vulnerable households, complementing cash transfers.
  1.  Also encourages Member States to promote work-family balance as conducive to the well-being of children, the achievement of gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls, inter alia, through improved working conditions for workers with family responsibilities, flexible working arrangements, such as telecommuting, and leave arrangements, such as maternity leave and paternity leave, affordable, accessible and good-quality childcare and initiatives to promote the equal sharing of household responsibilities, including unpaid care work, between men and women;
  • According to the report, longer maternity, paternity and parental leave provisions, the option to work reduced hours and telecommuting have been introduced in several Member States, and the public sector has often been a pioneer in offering work-life balance measures for its employees (n. 27).
  • Hungary has also prioritized support to mothers re-entering the labour market, and the employment rate of women has grown from 50 to 60.2 per cent in the past 6 years (n. 32). In Jordan, the National Council for Family Affairs has been implementing a project to establish and support nurseries and childcare centres in the private sector to encourage women to participate in the labour market (n. 38).
  • Flexible working arrangements and telecommuting are expanding in the Russian Federation: special training courses are also offered to help women returning from long-term parental leave improve their job qualifications in the competitive labour market (n. 40).  
  • In Peru, the Fatherhood Platform Peru (‘Plataforma de Paternidades Perú’) seeks to encourage men to participate in caring for their children, and is composed of organizations and institutions of government, civil society and companies (n. 54).
  1.  Further encourages Member States to invest in family policies and programmes that enhance strong intergenerational interactions, such as intergenerational living arrangements, parenting education and support for grandparents, including grandparents who are primary caregivers, in an effort to promote inclusive urbanization, intergenerational solidarity and social cohesion;
  • ‘Parenting education’ is mentioned in this resolution for the second time in a row, and it refers to programmes targeted to improve fathers’ and mothers’ parenting skills, while ‘parental education’ relates to their educational attainment.
  • The Hungarian pension system fosters intergenerational solidarity and reduces inequality, reallocating resources between the young and old generations: both formal employment and childcare activities count towards pension entitlements (n. 50).
  • Several Member States have invested in intergenerational facilities and supporting interactions among generations, such as parenting education to improve the well-being of children, though more evaluations are needed to ascertain the long-term impact and effectiveness of such programmes (n. 112).
  1.  Encourages Member States to consider providing universal and gender-sensitive social protection systems, which are key to ensuring poverty reduction, including, as appropriate, targeted cash transfers for families in vulnerable situations, as can be the case of families headed by a single parent, in particular those headed by women, and which are most effective in reducing poverty when accompanied by other measures, such as providing access to basic services, high-quality education and health-care services;
  1.  Encourages Governments to support the United Nations trust fund on family activities;
  1.  Encourages Member States to strengthen cooperation with civil society, academic institutions and the private sector in the development and implementation of relevant family policies and programmes;
  • Cooperation with civil society is reinforced with this paragraph, following the initiatives undertaken by many civil society organizations to contribute to the implementation of the twentieth anniversary of the International Year.  
  • Some examples of this advocacy effort include COFACE Families Europe and its vision for the reconciliation of economy and society (98); the events organized by the Walmart Centre for Family and Corporate Conciliation at the IAE Business School in Argentina (n. 99); the Global Home Index, an initiative of the Home Renaissance Foundation designed to evaluate how home-based work is valued and how it contributes to human development (n. 100); the Exchange Programme on the Wofoo Asian Award organized by the Consortium of Institutes on Family in the Asian Region and the Family Council in Hong Kong (n. 102); and the International Conference on the Family and Sustainable Development, organized in Lagos by the Institute for Work and Family Integration, in partnership with the International Federation for Family Development and the Nigerian Association for Family Development.
  1.  Encourages further collaboration between the Department of Economic and Social Affairs of the Secretariat and the United Nations entities, agencies, funds and programmes, as well as other relevant intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations active in the family field, as well as the enhancement of research efforts and awareness-raising activities relating to the objectives of the International Year and its follow-up processes;
  1.  Requests the focal point on the family of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs to enhance collaboration with the regional commissions, funds and programmes, recommends that the roles of focal points within the United Nations system be reaffirmed, and invites Member States to increase technical cooperation efforts, consider enhancing the role of the regional commissions on family issues and continue to provide resources for those efforts, facilitate the coordination of national and international non-governmental organizations on family issues and enhance cooperation with all relevant stakeholders to promote family issues and develop partnerships in this regard;
  • This mention of the focal point on the family strengthens this position and shows new possibilities to consolidate it.
  1.  Calls upon Member States and agencies and bodies of the United Nations system, in consultation with civil society and other relevant stakeholders, to continue to provide information on their activities, including on good practices at the national, regional and international levels, in support of the objectives of the International Year and its follow-up processes, to be included in the report of the Secretary-General;
  1.  Requests the Secretary-General to submit a report to the General Assembly at its seventy-fifth session, through the Commission for Social Development and the Economic and Social Council, on the implementation of the objectives of the International Year and its follow-up processes by Member States and by agencies and bodies of the United Nations system;
  1. Decides to consider the topic ‘Implementation of the objectives of the International Year of the Family and its follow-up processes’ at its seventy-fourth session under the sub-item entitled ‘Social development, including questions relating to the world social situation and to youth, ageing, disabled persons and the family’ of the item entitled ‘Social development’.

—-

[1] The Group of 77 is the largest intergovernmental organization of developing countries in the United Nations, and the original number of members has increased to 134 countries since it was established in 1964. More information available at: http://www.g77.org/.

[2] Cf. UN Meetings Coverage and Press Releases (3rd Committee, 16 Nov. 2018), available at: https://www.un.org/press/en/2018/gashc4254.doc.htm

[3] A/C.3/73/L.19/Rev.1, available at: https://undocs.org/A/C.3/73/L.19/Rev.1.

[4] A/73/61-E/2018/4, available at: https://undocs.org/A/73/61

El matrimonio como institución natural

  por Lelia Díaz, jurista

De todas las estructuras humanas nacionales e internacionales, la más importante es la de la familia. Porque en la familia se forjan los valores humanos y se sientan los pilares del desarrollo y perfeccionamiento de los ciudadanos. Pero, antes que la familia existe otra realidad natural, el matrimonio. Ambas han existido desde siempre como instituciones naturales. Ahora, en pleno siglo XXI, se convierte en imperiosa necesidad revalorar esas realidades para determinar si el contenido heterosexual del matrimonio debe permanecer o no. En ese sentido, ¿cabe la posibilidad de que la regulación internacional, constitucional, civil del matrimonio extienda su protección jurídica a las personas del mismo sexo? ¿Si no lo hace, habría la posibilidad de que se caiga en supuestos de discriminación por razón de sexo u orientación sexual?

La finalidad de este artículo consiste en traer a colación algunas reflexiones de cómo se concebía el matrimonio en las sociedades primitivas, en el Derecho romano y de cómo se reconoce el matrimonio y la familia en la legislación internacional. En la parte final abordaremos una línea para poder encarar con éxito dicha cuestión.

Así, es primordial reconocer que el derecho es una realidad social que existe gracias al hombre. Se trata de una creación humana. El derecho entra dentro del ámbito de la experiencia de las personas, de su disponibilidad; es un instrumento útil y un artículo de primera necesidad[1], revelándose como expresión de su cultura[2]. El derecho ordena la convivencia de las personas en la sociedad[3], debiendo encontrar la estabilidad en la sociedad, más allá de lo convencional y artificial[4]. El  derecho no puede dejar de tener un nexo necesario con la sociedad[5]. En otras palabras, el derecho tiene como precedentes otras realidades, la naturaleza de las cosas que ni la voluntad de los hombres ni las leyes las pueden modificar.

En ese sentido, es importante mencionar que el matrimonio es una realidad social que existe desde que existe el hombre, desde la fase más primitiva. Nace como una institución que alberga personas, protagonizada por un varón y una mujer. Aunque las formas y tipos de matrimonios hayan ido variando, a lo largo de la historia, “tienen en común un efecto: proporciona al hijo un padre y una madre socialmente reconocidos[6]. El matrimonio es la fuente y fundamento del sistema de parentesco que rige una sociedad[7]. El matrimonio “constituye un dato empírico indiscutible que en las sociedades de cazadores recolectores conocidas, hombres y mujeres contraen matrimonios y forman familias nucleares”[8]. Siguiendo esta lógica, se puede entrever que la familia se funda como realidad natural, precedida de una unión “matrimonial”, de dos personas mujer y varón[9]. Esa heterosexualidad es una realidad social desde la antigüedad.

En el derecho antiguo, específicamente romano, el origen de la familia es el hecho (factum) del matrimonio – iustae nuptiae, iustum matrimonium – que la jurisprudencia romana clásica define al matrimonio como “la unión de hombre y mujer en pleno consorcio de su vida…”[10]. Y en palabras de Modestino: “El matrimonio es la unión de hombre y mujer en pleno consorcio de vida y comunicación del derecho divino y humano[11]. Situación de hecho, pero con algunas consecuencias jurídicas[12]. En esta sociedad romana, el matrimonio contaba con dos elementos: uno objetivo, representado por la cohabitación y otro subjetivo, representado por la affectio maritalis[13]. Entre otros elementos jurídicos que constituyen el matrimonio como institución percibidos hasta este punto, es la heterosexualidad[14] y tiene una finalidad[15] que es fundar una familia[16].

Nos parece reseñable enfatizar la fuente del Derecho romano, porque en él se ha formado la tradición de la ciencia jurídica de nuestro derecho actual, de nuestras legislaciones, principalmente europea e iberoamericana[17]. Allí radica el valor de redescubrir la institución jurídica del matrimonio y en ella, su elemento de la heterosexualidad. Y ese descubrir nos ha llevado a afirmar que el matrimonio es una realidad natural heterosexual.

El derecho, como instrumento al servicio del hombre, ha regulado el matrimonio como una institución natural que se forma de la unión de un “varón” y una “mujer” como unidad para “fundar” una “familia”. Es importante reconocer que el derecho como norma jurídica es una realidad dinámica. En ese sentido, el derecho debe innovar, pero sin destruir principios que emanan de la misma naturaleza de las cosas que son inmutables. En virtud de ello, el matrimonio es una realidad preexistente al derecho, realidad que no debe cambiar. El matrimonio es más que un derecho, es una institución natural que tiene un nexo muy estrecho y de finalidad, fundar una familia.

Por otro lado, es importante revisar la legislación internacional en torno al matrimonio y a la familia. En ese sentido, la concepción del matrimonio que se desprende de la lectura de la legislación con carácter universal tiene como elementos esenciales unos más explícitas que otros. Los explícitos son el consentimiento, identidad con la familia y la formalidad; los implícitos, la heterosexualidad o complementariedad y la unión monogámica. Por ejemplo, en el artículo 16°.1 de la Declaración Universal de los Derechos Humanos (DUDH) de 1948, se establece que “Los hombres y las mujeres, a partir de la edad núbil, tienen derecho, sin restricción alguna por motivos de raza, nacionalidad o religión, a casarse y fundar una familia; y disfrutarán de iguales derechos en cuanto al matrimonio, durante el matrimonio y en caso de disolución del matrimonio. 2. Sólo mediante libre y pleno consentimiento de los futuros esposos podrá contraerse el matrimonio. 3. La familia es el elemento natural y fundamental de la sociedad y tiene derecho a la protección de la sociedad y del Estado”.

Asimismo, en el artículo 23° del Pacto Internacional de Derechos Civiles y Políticos (PIDCP) con vigencia desde 1976 en el artículo 23° prescribe que “1. La familia es el elemento natural y fundamental de la sociedad y tiene derecho a la protección de la sociedad y del Estado. 2. Se reconoce el derecho del hombre y de la mujer a contraer matrimonio y a fundar una familia si tienen edad para ello. 3. El matrimonio no podrá celebrarse sin el libre y pleno consentimiento de los contrayentes. 4. Los Estados Partes en el presente Pacto tomarán las medidas apropiadas para asegurar la igualdad de derechos y de responsabilidades de ambos esposos en cuanto al matrimonio, durante el matrimonio y en caso de disolución del mismo. En caso de disolución, se adoptarán disposiciones que aseguren la protección necesaria a los hijos”.

Por otro lado, en el Pacto Internacional de Derechos Económicos, Sociales y Culturales en el artículo (PIDESC), vigente también desde 1976, en el artículo 10°: “Los Estados Partes en el presente Pacto reconocen que: 1. Se debe conceder a la familia, que es el elemento natural y fundamental de la sociedad, la más amplia protección y asistencia posibles, especialmente para su constitución y mientras sea responsable del cuidado y la educación de los hijos a su cargo. El matrimonio debe contraerse con el libre consentimiento de los futuros cónyuges…”.

Los tres documentos legales mencionados forman parte de la Carta Internacional de Derechos Humanos. Rige para –hasta el momento– 193 estados miembros que han ratificado su permanencia en las Naciones Unidas (NN.UU)[18] y como tal todos esos estados[19] tienen la obligación de respetar y resguardar los principios y derechos que se han establecido en esos dispositivos jurídicos, con carácter imperativo[20] de ius cogens[21].

En virtud a ello, los legisladores de cada estado deben proponer leyes afines y coherentes con los principios de las normas internacionales. De esa manera se evita también que la “tutela de un derecho interfiera excesivamente en otros derechos fundamentales, o, incluso con exigencias diferentes respecto a los derechos fundamentales, como ciertos intereses públicos o colectivos[22]. Y consecuentemente los operadores del derecho deben interpretar los dispositivos normativos con rigor científico. Es decir, deberán aplicar diversas técnicas de interpretación e integración para desvelar el sentido real de la norma, aplicando también criterios y principios de carácter universal que emanan de la naturaleza de las cosas[23]. Recordemos que el derecho, entendido como norma propuesta o reconocida por el legislador, debe seguir a la persona en su integridad[24].

Es importante mostrar que el matrimonio como institución natural, tal como lo reconocen los documentos antes citados y reconocido también en el Derecho romano, es distinto al “derecho a contraer matrimonio”[25]. Y este derecho, al ser derecho fundamental debe ser analizado teniendo en cuenta su contenido esencial[26] y ese contenido debe ser coherente con la concepción del matrimonio expuesto. Es decir, que en el seno de su contenido debe guardar como elementos básicos la heterosexualidad y la familia.

[1] Cfr. HERVADA, Javier. ¿Qué es el derecho?, 3° Ed., EUNSA, Pamplona, 2011, p. 37.

[2] Cfr. COTTA, Sergio. ¿Qué es el derecho? Rialp, Madrid, 1993, p.27.

[3] Cfr. GROSSI, Paolo. “El orden Jurídico Medieval”, traducido por Francisco Tomás y Valiente y Clara Álvarez, Madrid, Marcial Pons, 1996, p. 28.

[4] Cfr. Ibídem, p. 76.

[5] Cfr. Ibídem, p. 80.

[6] RIBAS, José María. “Prehistoria del Derecho”, España, Almuzara, 2015, p. 102.

[7] Cfr. RIBAS, José María, op., cit, p. 102.

[8] RIBAS, José María, op., cit, p. 103.

[9] Cfr. EMBER-EMBER, C.R. “Antropología cultural”,1997, Trad. DE CANCEL, D. y otros en Ribas, José María. “Prehistoria del Derecho”, España, Almuzara, 2015, p. 105.

[10] BETANCOURT, Fernando. Derecho Romano Clásico, 3° Edición, Publicaciones de la Universidad de Sevilla, Sevilla, 2007, p. 411.

[11] D’ORS, A; HERNÁNDEZ-TEGESO, F. y otros en versión castellana. EL Digesto de Justiniano. Versión Castellana, Aranzadi, Tomo II, Libros 20-36, Pamplona, 1972, D. 23, 2, 1, p. 102.

[12] Cfr. D’ORS, Álvaro. Elementos de derecho privado romano, 5° Ed. Eunsa, Navarra, 2104, p. 145.

[13] Cfr. BETANCOURT, Fernando, op., cit, p. 411.

[14] CFR. ALCÍVAR, Carlos y otros. Lex canuleia como fuente en la norma del matrimonio de la legislatura ecuatoriana, In Crescendo, Derecho, 2015; 2(2), encontrado en file:///C:/Users/Lelia/Downloads/1144-3765-1-PB%20(1).pdf, visitado el 27 de noviembre de 2017.

[15] Cfr. MAZZINGHI, Jorge. Tratado de Derecho de Familia, Buenos Aires, p. 8

[16] Cfr. La Instituta de Gayo, traducido por Robert Joseph Pothier, Imprenta de la Sociedad Literaria y Tipográfica, Madrid, 1854. Entrado en http://fama2.us.es/fde/ocr/2006/institutaDeGayo.pdf.

[17] Cfr. D’ORS, Álvaro, op., cit, p. 20.

[18] Ubicado en http://www.cinu.mx/onu/miembros/, consultado el 27 de noviembre de 2017.

[19] Cfr. YASSEEN, Mustafá en NOVAK, Fabian y GARCÍA-CORROCHANO, Luis. Derecho Internacional Público, 2° Edición, Tomo I, Lima, Thomson Reuters, 2016, p.486.

[20] Cfr. ACOSTA, Juana y DUQUE, Ana. “Declaración universal de derechos humanos, ¿norma de ius cogens? En International Law: Revista Colombiana de Derecho Internacional, N° 12, Edición Especial 2008, p.31.

[21] Cfr. JUSTE, José; CASTILLO, Mireya; y, BOU, Valentín. Lecciones de Derecho Internacional Público, 2° Edición, Valencia, Tirant lo Blanch, 2011, p. 95-96.

[22] PINO, Giorgio. Derechos fundamentales, conflictos y ponderación, Palestra, Lima, 2013, p. 232.

[23] Cfr. GROSSI, Paolo. El orden jurídico medieval, Marcial Pons, Madrid, 1996 p. 18.

[24]Cfr.  HERVADA, Javier. Escritos de derecho natural. 3° Ed. Eunsa, Pamplona, 2013, p. 117.

[25] Crf. VILADRICH, Pedro. La agonía del matrimonio, Eunsa, Pamplona, 1984, p. 49-53.

[26] Cfr. CASTILLO, Luis. El significado del contenido esencial de los derechos fundamentales. En Revista foro jurídico, núm. 13, Lima, 2014, p. 145.

Families in the cities

Families at the cornerstone of the New Urban Agenda

The New Urban Agenda has been finally agreed at the United Nations Headquarters during the Habitat III Informal Intergovernmental Meeting in early September. The outcome will be adopted in October 2016 in Quito, Ecuador, where Heads of State and Government, Ministers and High Representatives will be addressing the way cities and human settlements are planned, designed, financed, developed, governed and managed. The New Urban Agenda has the same goals agreed for the 2030 Agenda: contribute to reducing inequalities; promote sustainable and inclusive economic growth; end poverty and hunger; foster resilience; achieve gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls; improve human health and well-being; and protect the environment[1].

There is a wide array of guidance and recommendations regarding the implementation of the New Urban Agenda. Among the United Nations programmes and agencies, in which UN-Habitat have taken the lead with the upcoming conference, evidence-based and practical initiatives contribute along with relevant stakeholders in close collaboration with Member States, local authorities, major groups, civil society and the mobilization of experts. Within the United Nations system alone, we can find initiatives such as UN-Habitat’s ‘Global Network on Safer Cities’; Unicef’s ‘Child Friendly Cities’; and projects such as the World Health Organization’s ‘Healthy Cities’ and Unesco’s ‘Growing Up in Cities’. Other international and intergovernmental organizations, in cooperation with the United Nations, have promoted studies and programs closely related to urban areas, for example, ‘Urban Development’ from the World Bank and OECD’s publication on ‘Ageing in Cities’.

It is projected that the urban population will reach 5 billion people by 2030, compared with today’s 3.5 billion; that is two-thirds of the global population living in cities. Nowadays, more than 80% of global GDP is generated in cities, which means that urbanization can contribute to sustainable growth, if managed well, by increasing productivity, and allowing innovation and new ideas to emerge. graf1The most urgent task is for city leaders to move quickly to plan for growth and provide basic services, infrastructure, and housing for their expanding population’s needs. However, the speed and scale of urbanization brings challenges, including meeting accelerated demand for affordable, well-connected transport systems, and basic services, as well as jobs, particularly for the nearly 1 billion urban poor who live in informal settlements in order to be near any opportunities that may arise[2].

A strong reaction to these challenges is essential in order to ensure the safe growth of children, independent living and well-being for older persons, and equal access to society for people with disabilities. A problematic home environment, by contrast, can have detrimental effects on all members of the family. Building cities that ‘work’–in terms of being inclusive, safe, resilient, productive and liveable–requires intensive policy coordination and investment choices. National and local governments have an important role to play to take action now, to shape the future of their development, and to create opportunities for all, so that no one will be left behind.

In order to build cities that work, three core pillars must be taken into account. It is necessary to 1) improve living conditions for families: infrastructure services, tenure, housing, and neighbourhoods; 2) strengthen city finances, planning, and governance systems with a holistic approach of participation from families; and 3) support urban transformation from a family perspective to develop land-use planning, management, and implementation of integrated investments in infrastructure and service delivery for all family members. These pillars will require an action plan that includes social cohesion and equity, urban framework, spatial development, urban economy, urban ecology and environment, and urban housing and basic services.

Social cohesion and spatial development

The ‘New Urban Agenda’ envisages cities and human settlements that “are participatory; promote civic engagement; engender a sense of belonging and ownership among all their inhabitants; prioritize safe, inclusive, accessible, green, and quality public spaces; are friendly for families; and enhance social and intergenerational interactions”[3]. Within this framework, the first action for any social cohesion and cultural development within cities should be related to the inclusion of children. The most vulnerable group of any society is the key component to guide local governments in the achievement of their goals, policies, programmes and structures.

In order to be inclusive for children, these should ensure that they can participate in family, community and social life, receive basic services such as health care and education, access to proper sanitation, be safe, socialize, live in a healthy environment, participate in cultural and social events and be an equal citizen with access to every service, regardless of ethnic origin, religion, income, gender or disability[4].

Senior citizens are another vulnerable group in cities. In OECD countries, the number of people over 65 is growing quickly. Between 2001-11, ageing in cities rose from 12% to 14%, in contrast with the increase of total population in cities of just 8.8%. This trend raises awareness regarding the need for suitable infrastructure, labour market reform, increased supply of social housing, and higher spending on health and social care.

The new urban agenda is going to face complex challenges in cities with dense infrastructure while adjusting to the new reality. Some progress has been made to build accessible cities for people with disabilities, but senior citizens also have particular requirements, especially if the urbanization trend is added to the equation: 80% of senior citizens live in urban areas in developed countries. habitat-iiiFor example, in terms of housing, 25% of senior citizens do not own the homes they live in, whilst, in the USA, for example, 29% live alone. In the EU, the ratio of elderly to working-age people is currently nearly 20%, and may double by 2030. These facts alone have important implications for sustainable urban development in terms of spatial strategies: land market, mobility, transportation and housing policies[5].

The impact of ageing societies in cities is clear. In what way cities will mitigate the challenges and become more elderly-friendly is a matter of perspective and collective response. An initial approach is within the family, where more than one generation lives together in an inclusive environment. In families, the diversity of roles that the elder members of the family can carry out is as valuable as the array of care they may need while ageing. Therefore, public and private actors, including national and local governments, may work together to find ways to involve families to tackle, as a unit, the challenges to come.

Between the children and the elderly there is a segment of society with growing leadership and attention, the so-called ‘youth’. The outcome draft resolution of the New Urban Agenda has given “particular attention to the potential contributions from all segments of society, including men and women, children and youth […]”[6]. In the industrialized countries, a half to three-quarters of all children and youths live in urban areas; in the developing world, the majority of them will be urban in the next few decades.

Cities need young people as active participants in evaluating their communities, in determining priorities for change, and in helping make change really happen. A successful process in order to acquire these objectives may be a holistic approach through the family. We have seen in many countries how families have proved to be an essential component in tackling unemployment situations. Starting with their own families, young citizens improve the quality of their communities and develop greater awareness of the world around them. By appreciating the different generations represented in their own homes, they develop greater appreciation of their own value and skills, and develop self-confidence through involvement in improving public spaces in their local area: the same places where they will need to demonstrate social and environmental responsibility and the capacity for democratic action when they become adults.

Urban economy and environmental resilience

While most of the global population and capital goods are concentrated in cities, urban areas remain crucial to social development and economic prosperity. They drive most of the national economic growth and are a source of innovation, facing sanitation challenges and security matters while acting as cultural and creative centres.

Modern cities need to be resilient to develop the new urban agenda, so constant diagnoses of urban strength are needed. Only a holistic approach of the numerous variables within the cities can manage to give a complete picture of the city’s vigour, and dialogue among stakeholders is equally important. Any effort aimed at facilitating dialogue among stakeholders (for example, government, civil society, residents, and the private sector) about risks, resilience, and the performance of urban systems is a worthwhile cause. With an accurate diagnosis, priority actions and investments can be identified, as well as strengthening resilience for planned or aspirational projects. So, it seems clear that a holistic and integrated approach that encourages cross-sectorial collaboration is more efficient when tackling existing issues and unlocking opportunities within the city[8].

One of the hallmarks of a resilient city is the capacity to create jobs, successfully facilitating its firms and industries to be competitive, raise productivity, and increase the income of citizens over time. While, locally, a city contributes to national development, worldwide, competitive cities become a pathway to eliminating extreme poverty and to promoting shared prosperity among families. In previous years, the primary source of job creation has been the growth of private-sector firms, which have typically accounted for around 75% of job creation. Thus, city leaders need to be familiar with the factors that help to attract, to retain, and to expand the private sector and the well-being of families.[9]

Inclusive cities for sustainable families

The family unit has proven to be the main agent for development within societies and the cornerstone for sustainable cities. Therefore, its area of action must be of great concern in order to facilitate its role in generations to come. If families are these crucial development agents, an adequate environment is needed to facilitate their role.

Within a social dimension, a holistic approach to the family will definitely contribute in the three different aspects of sustainable development, and will make possible an accurate assessment of the needs for inclusive cities, especially in terms of investment in infrastructure. In order to achieve this objective, families may need to be provided with adequate tools for strengthening their ability to reach their potential as productive, engaged, and capable agents of sustainable development, contributing fully to their members and communities. Sustainable cities start and end with cohesive and inclusive families.

SONY DSC

José Alejandro Vazquez is PhD Researcher and the International Federation for Family Development Representative to the United Nations, New York.

Extract from the original paper published by IFFD. http://www.familyperspective.org/ppr/IFFDPapers57EN.pdf

[1] A/RES/70/210.

[2] http://www.worldbank.org/en/topic/urbandevelopment/overview#3

[3] HABITAT III, New Urban Agenda. Draft outcome document for adoption in Quito, October 2016, https://www.habitat3.org/file/535859/view/588897.

[4] UNICEF – Innocenti Research Center, Building Child Friendly Cities. A Framework for Action, 2004. UNICEF – Innocenti Research Center, Assessing and Monitoring Child Friendly Communities and Cities. Analyzing results and moving forward, 2010. UNICEF – Innocenti Research Center, Certification systems and other assessment mechanisms for child friendly cities: A study with a focus on Europe. 2011.

[5] OECD (2015), Ageing in Cities, OECD Publishing, Paris. http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/9789264231160-en

[6] HABITAT III, New Urban Agenda. Draft outcome document for adoption in Quito, October 2016, https://www.habitat3.org/file/535859/view/588897.

[7] Chawla, L. (Ed.), Growing Up in an Urbanising World. Paris / London: UNESCO Publishing / Earthscan, 2002.

[8] WORLD BANK, The CityStrength Diagnostic – Resilient Cities Program, 2015, http://www.worldbank.org/en/topic/urbandevelopment/brief/citystrength

[9] KILROY, Austin Francis Louis; MUKIM, Megha; NEGRI, Stefano; “Competitive cities for jobs and growth: what, who, and how”, 2015/01/01

[10] Terminology for the European Conference on Health, Society and Alcohol: A glossary with equivalents in French, German and Russian. WHO (EURO), Copenhagen, 1995.

[11] Harpham et al. (2001). Healthy city projects in developing countries: The first evaluation. Health Promotion International. 16(2): 111-125. Khosh-Chashm, K. (1995) Healthy Cities and Healthy Villages. Eastern Mediterranean Health Journal. 1(2): 103-111. Kenzer M. (2000) Healthy Cities: A guide to the literature. Public Health Reports. 115: 279–289. Tsouros, A. (1995) The WHO Healthy Cities Project: state of the art and future plans. Health Promotion International. 10(2): 133-141.

An Evidence-based Family Perspective

After the world leaders adopted the new 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the United Nations Development Programme will support governments around the world in tackling the 17 new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The SDGs aim to end poverty, hunger and inequality, take action on climate change and the environment, improve access to health and education, build strong institutions and partnerships, and more.

During decades, the UN has proven to be the main empowering institution to protect Human Rights, improve the world’s women role and foster the next generation through the work on youth. Within the SDGs, a family approach is an step forward to the long-standing efforts of the UN intended to remove all barriers and ensure the active participation of families in society, especially including decisions on investments in health, housing and education.

“As basic and essential building blocks of societies, families have a crucial role in social development. They bear the primary responsibility for the education and socialization of children as well as instilling values of citizenship and belonging in the society. Families provide material and non-material care and support to its members, from children to older persons or those suffering from illness, sheltering them from hardship to the maximum possible extent. The very achievement of development goals depends on how well families are empowered to contribute to the achievement of those goals. Thus, policies focusing on improving the well-being of families are certain to benefit development.”[1] . Henceforward, to most effectively reach the SDGs and ensure that no one is left behind, we are arguing that we will have to do a better job in leaving no family behind.

Promoting cohesive families

The IFFD has been working persistently in this family approach and has recently organized its 19th International Family Congress in Mexico City on October, 2015. The Congress hosted 1,836 delegates from 43 countries. In the final Declaration, the delegates emphasized that families have a crucial role in social development and confirmed their commitment to helping families worldwide and to contributing to universal peace and respect of human rights through Family Enrichment Courses and other programmes.[2]

In the final Declaration it’s also appreciated the work fulfilled worldwide since the article 16 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The article set a starting point for any consideration of family-related issues. Where, the mere language and symbolism of family “has the potential to proffer the middle ground from which compromise and consensus can emerge on even the most polarizing and divisive issues.”[3] Therefore, a family impact approach has built consensus in various resolutions and decisions on this matter by the United Nations General Assembly and other international bodies.

The mentioned Declaration was finally stated in February 2016 at the 54th Commission for Social Development and fully explained in a side-event themed precisely “Leaving no family behind” at the UN Headquarters. The IFFD delegates welcomed the recognition within the SDGs, specially 1 to 5, that the very design, development, implementation and monitoring of family-oriented policies and programmes are essential for the success of the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda. “Family can contribute to eradicating poverty and hunger, achieving universal primary education, promoting gender equality and empowering women, reducing child mortality, improving maternal health and combating HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases”.[4]

Various suggestions included on the Declaration help to achieve SDG1 and SDG2 when considering the family as a unit in which the well-being of their individual members is promoted while a breakdown can be both a root cause and an effect of poverty. A range of family-oriented policies play a vital role tackling with the intergenerational transmition of poverty, which also includes children´s health, development in nutrition and families’ finantial resources and behaviours.

A family approach also helps to ensure healthy lives and promoting well-being at all ages (SDG3) when the family facilitates intergenerational solidarity. Therefore, appropriate policies should be directed to promote equitable access to resources that strengthen family ties, such as family enrichment courses, positive parenting classes or mentoring programmes, and encourage volunteering of older persons in schools and offering community service requirements for high-school students, requiring young people to help older persons with their daily activities.

Again, on the SDG4 family approach is reinforced by mentioning “cohesive families” for the first time ever. Cohesive families are said to provide “a nurturing environment to children and youth, for the full realization of their rights and capabilities”.[5] They also are a meeting point for generations offering “inclusive and equitable quality education at all levels for all people, irrespective of sex, age, race, ethnicity, and including persons with disabilities, all migrants, indigenous peoples, especially those in vulnerable situations”[6].

Furthermore, addressing cohesive families promotes gender equality and empowerment of women by recognizing the value of unpaid care, domestic work and economic dimension of their activity (SDG5). It is in such environment where girls and boys are treated equally and parents share care and household responsibilities. Policymakers may find in cohesive families a potential way to contribute to the achievement of several sustainable development goals and targets.

Evidence-Based Family Perspective

All the efforts made to protect human rights on women and young people could be enriched by adding the family as a political priority. A family approach would represent a logical step forward to ensure no one is left behind, specially women and young people who are naturally part of the family and proven to be the most vulnerable. This family empowerment would promote policies at the national, regional and international levels by removing social, political, legal and economic barriers to their active participation in society. Such a step forward would enable families to assert greater control over their resources and life choices and by providing instruments to recognize the time, effort and money that committed families invest in their children.

Due to policymakers may encounter difficulties valuing families and people, the IFFD is promoting the project “Making Families a Cornerstone in Policymaking: A Global Guide for Policymakers on Family Impact”. In this project the family impact lens pays attention to relationships between people and the fact that “family policies are most effective when targeting the family unit and its dynamic as a whole, rather than focusing on the needs of individual family members”.[7] Yet this conceptual distinction is often overlooked in policy discourse and decision-making. According to the Secretary General of the United Nations, policies too often ignore the family unit and continue to target individuals.[8]

The value of elevating families in policymaking is supported by a solid body of research evidence that endorses families as a fundamental component of a strong and vital society. Families are a cornerstone for generating the productive workers a sound economy demands and for rearing the caring, committed citizens a strong society requires. For example, researchers have documented the valuable contribution families make in promoting their members’ academic success, economic productivity, emotional well-being, and social competence among other outcomes of interest.[9] In addition, professionals who educate, administer, or deliver services to families espouse the desirability and viability of family-focused approaches for more effectively and efficiently achieving program goals.[10]

Additionally, dialogue and partnerships between social policy makers and relevant stakeholders, including families, family associations, the business sector, trade unions and employers should be enhanced to develop and improve family-friendly policies and practices in the workplace. This should include both housework and care, because, in reality, both are a form of care, housework having important implications for the well-being of all members of the family.

How can this be achieved? A proposal includes three very clear recommendations: policies to promote education about freedom and rights; information and advice regarding responsibility and duties; and legislation on both these areas. Sound family policies must be based on adequate research and analysis. Family policy monitoring and evaluation is also indispensable to advance policy development; continue policies that work and discontinue those that have proven ineffective. Support data collection and research on family issues and the impact of public policy on families and invest in family-oriented policies and programme design, implementation and evaluation[11].

Well-Being Indicators

According to the resolutions from the Commission for Social Development and Commission for Population Development an evidence-based approach is definitive to policy development, monitoring, review and follow up. It will never be a family perspective without measurement tools. That is why we promote the definitition of evidence-based quantification of family impact according to Global Well-Being Indicators. The scope should be both narrow and broad. Telescopic focusing on families. Kaleidoscopic examining both (1) family policies intentionally designed to improve family functions (e.g., early childhood care and education, positive parenting, caregiving of the aging, reconciliation of work and family life) and prevent dysfunctions (e.g., child exploitation, domestic violence, family poverty) and (2) any policy that inadvertently influences family functioning and decision-making (e.g., education, gender equality, health care, sustainable economic development, urban growth). In a nutshell, we will promote the concept that families are what to think about and that the family impact lens is how to think in a more holistic way that recognizes the importance of commitment to others, which is first learned and practiced in families.[12]

Evidence-based Global Family Well-Being indicators are projected to be an outcome of a research-based method that critically examines the past, present, or probable future effects of a policy on family relationships, family stability, family members’ ability to carry out their responsibilities, and so forth.[13] Analysis of family impact can help policymakers better grasp how strong families support societies and how societies can support strong families. The goal is to turn family rhetoric into reality. To use the family impact lens to shift the current rhetoric from merely appreciating families in the abstract to substantively viewing families in more pragmatic, accurate, and effective ways.

Our initial thinking is outlined below on how we plan to encourage the world’s decision makers to view policies through family-colored glasses, that is, developing policies that create the conditions for families to thrive and that consider any policy for its impact on families.

  • Develop culturally appropriate principles and indicators that will serve as the core for a family impact checklist that builds on the knowledge and experience of family experts from around the world; we will begin with (but not be limited to) principles such as family responsibility, family stability, family relationships, family diversity, and family engagement.
  • Our work will target family policies designed to promote the best interests of families. Also, we will focus on other policies that may not specifically address family interests, yet may have inadvertent consequences for them. For example, we will conduct family impact analysis on three or four 2015 sustainable development goals. We will strive to incorporate these findings into the UN’s capacity building efforts and communicate these findings to the policymakers who are developing implementation plans.
  • Pilot test different methods for bringing the family impact lens to policy and practice with our partners in academia and civil society in different countries around the world in those jurisdictions where family policies are made; because policymakers typically seek out information in the context of trusted relationships, pilot tests will focus on jurisdictions where our partners have established trusting relationships with policymakers.
  • Produce brief, accessible publications targeted to the issues and decisions policymakers face in their jobs such as why family impact is important, how policymakers can examine family impacts of policy decisions, in what ways the family impact lens has benefited policy decisions around the world, and so forth.
  • Develop a toolkit that can be used as a prototype to encourage more widespread adoption of the family impact framework and methods.
  • Evaluate whether our efforts are reaching our goals of encouraging policymakers to view issues through the lens of family impact, incorporate family considerations into their jobs, and take steps to build better public policies for families.
  • Plan for dissemination through the development of resources, both written and video, that capture how much can be accomplished and what can be learned in the pilot tests and evaluations.
  • Build on what is learned to vision what strategies and leadership are needed to promote widespread global adoption of the family impact framework.[14]

If we really want to leave no family behind, we need to define the right well-being indicators to asses the impact needed for implementing a family perspective. From a Universal Human Rights perspective, it is also needed that these indicators should be globally pertinent in the definition but locally appropriate in the application.

José Alejandro Vazquez is PhD Researcher and the International Federation for Family Development Representative to the United Nations, New York.

[1] Cf. A/66/62-E/2011/4.

[2] Cf. IFFD Written Statement for the CSocD54, E/CN.5/2016/NGO/32.

[3] Bogenschneider, 2014.

[4] E/2014/99.

[5] Transforming our World: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development” (A/RES/70/1), para.25.

[6] Transforming our World: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development” (A/RES/70/1), target 2.3.

[7] Cf. Report of the UN Secretary General, 2014, A/68/61–E/2013/3.

[8] Cf. A Global Guide for Policymakers on Family Impact, IFFD, 2015.

[9] Cf. Bogenschneider & Corbett, 2010.

[10] Cf. Dunst, Trivette, & Hamby, 2007; Spoth, Kavanagh, & Dishion, 2002.

[11] Cf. A Global Guide for Policymakers on Family Impact, IFFD, 2015.

[12] Cf. A Global Guide for Policymakers on Family Impact, IFFD, 2015.

[13] Cf. Bogenschneider, Little, Ooms, Benning, Cadigan, & Corbett, 2012.

[14] Cf. A Global Guide for Policymakers on Family Impact, IFFD, 2015.

© IFFD • International Organizations Department (int.relations@iffd.org). Produced by the International Federation for Family Development (www.iffd.org) and The Family Watch (www.thefamilywatch.org). The contents do not represent the official position of any institution, but only the views of its author. It is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 Unported License.