UN Secretary General thanks SLS in his report to the General Assembly
In his report to the United Nations General Assembly in New York, Ban Ki-moon thanked Strathmore Law School and Voice of the Family in Africa for organising and co-hosting the African Regional forum on the family. Ban Ki-moon said: “The African Preparatory Conference, which covered such themes as confronting family poverty and social exclusion, ensuring work-family balance, and advancing social integration and intergenerational solidarity in Africa, was held in Nairobi on 23 and 24 January 2014 and was organized by Voice of the Family in Africa International and the Law School of Strathmore University in Kenya.
Issues discussed at the conference included social protection for families at risk, empowering young women, work-family balance initiatives, family policies and family, informal work, fertility and parenthood. Persistent poverty, informal working arrangements, insecurity, crime and corruption were cited as the main obstacles to development in Africa.On the positive side, several African countries have made or envision changes in their constitution so as to adopt a rights-based approach to the provision of social services.”
The Secretary General added that “Worldwide, civil society has been actively engaged in the preparations for and observance of the twentieth anniversary of the International Year. The civil society declaration on the occasion of the twentieth anniversary of the International Year, proposed and disseminated by the International Federation for Family Development, was sponsored by 27 international entities and signed by over 542 civil society representatives from 285 national organizations, as well as by elected officials, academics and individuals.
The Federation actively promoted the objectives of the anniversary, mobilizing support for its declaration and organizing a number of awareness-raising events throughout the year. It also carried out several communications projects to promote a family perspective among governments and international organizations, including a website listing events organized worldwide in observance of the twentieth anniversary and issuing research papers focusing on topics relating to the themes of the anniversary.”
According to the Secretary General, “Several Member States reported addressing the intergenerational transmission of poverty by prioritizing and scaling up support for vulnerable families with young children, including through the provision of conditional and universal cash transfers, child allowances and in-kind support measures. Some countries faced with fertility rates far below replacement level prioritized support to young and large families through financial and housing assistance. Despite such efforts, social protection remains a right unfulfilled for most children and families. According to the International Labour Organization, although specific provisions for child and family benefits exist in 108 countries, they more often than not cover only a limited segment of the population. A further 75 countries have no policy or programme in that regard. Countries spend on average only 0.4per cent of gross domestic product (GDP) on child and family benefits, with the amount ranging from 0.2 per cent in Africa and in Asia and the Pacific, to 2.2percent in Western Europe. Even with the expansion of cash transfer programmes in Latin America and the Caribbean, the expenditure in that region stands at 0.7 per cent, a level similar to that observed in the Middle East and North Africa as well as in Central and Eastern Europe. In higher-income countries, fiscal consolidation and adjustments have had a negative impact on children and families, with child poverty on the rise in 19 countries of the European Union between 2007 and 2012.”
Speaking about Family-Work balance, Ban Ki-moon expressed that Work-family balance policies are high on many national agendas, with some Governments offering subsidies to family-friendly companies and strengthening the capacity of preschool facilities and programmes. Family-friendly company certificates have been introduced in several countries in order to encourage and validate participation in and expansion of family-friendly management in businesses. The criteria for certification usually include the availability of parental leave, flexible working schedules and overall support for mothers and fathers in the workplace.
To read the full report, click here.