Day of Families
Message from H.E. Mr. Jan Kavan
President of the Fifty-seventh Session of the United Nations General
15 May 2003
The fundamental nuclear component of any society is the family
unit. It is sacrosanct to our survival as the human species as
we know and live life today. However, in today's world the family
is in transition and disintegrating and fragmenting under economic,
political and other pressures. To underline the significance of
the family, the United Nations General Assembly declared 15 May
of each year as the day to celebrate the International Day of
Families. Next year on this day, we will celebrate its tenth anniversary
and the United Nations is taking an active role to promote comprehensive
protection and support for the family unit at national and local
levels. It is hoped that governments will use this occasion to
reflect on the status of the family in their communities and the
ways in which it can strengthen the family and provide protection
and support to each family unit according to their need.
the oneness of humanity and the family as its basic building block,
the family remains the most effective institution to nurture the
values of mutual respect, tolerance and spirituality in our future
generations. So much of the welfare of any family lies in the
hands of the mother who bears the children and is their teacher
from the very moment of birth. It is therefore the mother who
bears a major role in shaping the family and its values together
with the father. This is why educational priorities for girls
are so crucial. An educated mother will ensure that her children
receive the protection, nurturing, care, guidance and encouragement
for their physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual development.
It is the father and mother within each family that can generate
an environment to teach values of democracy, human rights, social
responsibility, tolerance, peace and a work ethic.
violence is a debilitating feature in any family and community.
Governments also have the responsibility to promote violence free
families through enacting national legislation that criminalizes
all form of domestic violence and to provide monitoring and enforcement
mechanisms. Preventive strategies through sensitizing the police,
judiciary and religious leaders to the consequences of violence
and obtaining their active participation in creating harmonious
families and communities would go a long way towards improving
the status of the family. Equal rights and opportunities, including
rights to education, property rights and entrepreneurship opportunities
for women, are also tools towards improving the status of the
family through empowering women.
family unit in many countries and cultures includes the grandparents
and other extended family members. The senior members within a
family unit have an added value by way of unconditional love,
experience, support and providing moral and ethical standards,
to enrich the lives of the younger members in the family. Resourceful
approaches are available to harness the positive role of the elderly
in every community through enhancing their status wherever needed.
media of every nation can play a decisive role in changing the
entrenched negative patterns within a family and bring about a
revolution in attitudes where equal partnership between men and
women in a family is seen as the basis of creating united families.
United Nations system continues to be a catalyst, to create awareness
and promote the active participation of governments and civil
society to focus on and address this issue. "The family is
a nation in miniature" and therefore I urge all the decision
makers and stakeholders in our communities and nations to work
to ensure a family sustaining and friendly environment for a better
world for our generations to come.