International Day of Families - Compassion International

International Day of
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International Day of Families: On the Frontlines of Poverty

The International Day of Families is held annually on May 15. First held in 1994, the International Day of Families helps raise awareness about the many issues relating to and affecting families, including healthcare, education, violence, discrimination and gender inequality.

In his message for the 2016 International Day of Families, then United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon noted "families are on the frontlines of our global efforts to realize the bold and inclusive 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development."

Sustainable Development and Families

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, commonly known as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), was adopted by the United Nations in 2015. It defines the scope of the global community’s work to transform the world. The Sustainable Development Goals focus on:

  • ending poverty
  • promoting shared economic prosperity
  • protecting the environment
  • improving the human condition

Helping families is necessary in order to successfully accomplish the goals, and supporting families is particularly connected to the first five SDGs.

  1. End poverty in all its forms everywhere
  2. End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture
  3. Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages
  4. Ensure inclusive and quality education for all and promote lifelong learning
  5. Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls

Family-oriented laws, policies and programs help children grow into adults and help adults become valued and productive contributors to society, both economically and socially.

The Crucial Role of Families in Society

Families are the bedrock upon which society is built.

In a 2010 report to the United Nations General Assembly, the UN Secretary-General recognized the crucial role families have in social development.

"[Families] 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 crucial role that families play in society is disrupted by poverty. Poverty disrupts how families function. Poverty reduces family stability and security, abets risky behavior, limits quality time together and hinders access to family help resources. And in times of disaster, stress and heightened vulnerability the help and protection strong families provide family members becomes more important.

In this context, we assist families by offering:

  • Parenting and marriage workshops
  • Hygiene and sanitation classes
  • Domestic violence and child abuse prevention seminars
  • Literacy assistance and training
  • Disease awareness and prevention classes
  • Support from a community of caring parents

Prayers for Families
Abba Father. Please strengthen the love that binds families together so no obstacle is too difficult to overcome together. Shine your light on families and those working for the benefit of families. O Lord, bring the world together for the benefit of families. Amen.
  • Pray for families to be centered on love and for their homes to be sources of rest and rejuvenation in the face of life’s challenges.
  • Pray for Godly men and women to rise up as leaders in their communities to set an example of God’s desire for healthy families.
  • Pray that governments and non-governmental organizations work together effectively to create laws, policies and programs to improve the lives of families.
  • Pray for families to be sanctuaries from stress and strife. May they be models of patience in adversity and promoters of peace and harmony.
United Nations Themes for the International Day of Families
  • 2018: Families and Inclusive Societies
  • 2017: Families, Education and Well-being
  • 2016: Families, Healthy Lives and Sustainable Future
  • 2015: Men in Charge? Gender Equality and Children's Rights in Contemporary Families
  • 2014: Families Matter for the Achievement of Development Goals; International Year of the Family + 20
  • 2013 - Advancing Social Integration and Intergenerational Solidarity
  • 2012: Ensuring Work Family Balance
  • 2011: Confronting Family Poverty and Social Exclusion
  • 2010: The Impact of Migration on Families Around the World
  • 2009: Mothers and Families: Challenges in a Changing World
  • 2008: Fathers and Families: Responsibilities and Challenges
  • 2007: Families and Persons with Disabilities
  • 2006: Changing Families: Challenges and Opportunities
  • 2005: HIV/AIDS and Family Well-being
  • 2004: The Tenth Anniversary of the International Year of the Family: A Framework for Action
  • 2003: Preparations for the Observance of the Tenth Anniversary of the International Year of the Family in 2004
  • 2002: Families and Aging: Opportunities and Challenges
  • 2001: Families and Volunteers: Building Social Cohesion
  • 2000: Families: Agents and Beneficiaries of Development
  • 1999: Families for All Ages
  • 1998: Families: Educators and Providers of Human Rights
  • 1997: Building Families Based on Partnership
  • 1996: Families: First Victims of Poverty and Homelessness

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