A Nepalese family in front of their house. With support from a Joint UN Programme, the family increased its income by converting field from grain production to high-value vegetables.
A Nepalese family in front of their house. With support from a Joint UN Programme, the family increased its income by converting field from grain production to high-value vegetables.
Photo:UN Women/Narendra Shrestha
A Nepalese family in front of their house. With support from a joint UN programme, the family increased its income by converting fields from grain production to high-value vegetables. UN Women/Narendra Shrestha

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.

international day of families logo

Family trends

Families around the world are changing, many becoming smaller, as the number of single-parent households grows. Currently, 65% of all families are made up of either couples living with children of any age, or couples living with both children and extended family members, such as grandparents. The diminishing number of extended families and the increasing number of single-parent families put into sharp focus the issue of social protection.

Background

During the 1980's, the United Nations began focusing attention on issues related to the family. In 1983, based on the recommendations of the Economic and Social Council, the Commission for Social Development in its resolution on the Role of the family in the development process (1983/23) requested the Secretary-General to enhance awareness among decision makers and the public of the problems and needs of the family, as well as of effective ways of meeting those needs.

In its resolution 1985/29 of 29 May 1985, the Council invited the General Assembly to consider the possibility of including in the provisional agenda of its forty-first session an item entitled “Families in the development process”, with a view to consider a request to the Secretary-General to initiate a process of development of global awareness of the issues involved, directed towards Governments, intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations and public opinion.

Later, based on the recommendations of the Commission for Social Development, formulated in its 30th round of sessions, The Assembly invited all States to make their views known concerning the possible proclamation of an international year of the family and to offer their comments and proposals.

The Council also requested the Secretary-General to submit to the General Assembly at its forty-third session a comprehensive report, based on the comments and proposals of Member States on the possible proclamation of such a year and other ways and means to improve the position and well-being of the family and intensify international co-operation as part of global efforts to advance social progress and development.

In its resolution 44/82 of 9 December 1989, The General Assembly proclaimed The International Year of the Family.

In 1993, the General Assembly decided in a resolution (A/RES/47/237) that 15 May of every year should be observed as The International Day of Families. This day provides an opportunity to promote awareness of issues relating to families and to increase the knowledge of the social, economic and demographic processes affecting families.

On 25 September 2015, the 193 member states of the United Nations unanimously adopted the Sustainable Development Goals, a set of 17 goals aiming to eliminate poverty, discrimination, abuse and preventable deaths, address environmental destruction, and usher in an era of development for all people, everywhere. Families and family-oriented policies and programmes are vital for the achievement of many of these goals.

Did you know?

  • Maternity leave, which was offered in 89% of countries in 1995, was available in 96% of countries by 2015.
  • Only 57% of women, who are married, or in a domestic union, are able to make decisions about sexual relations and the use of contraceptives and reproductive health services.
  • Family homelessness is on the rise. In some European countries, it has been consistently above 20% of the total homeless population.

UN Events

Preguntas frecuentes

Online Webinar on 15 May, 2020

As UN Headquarters in New York remains closed for the month of May due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the annual observance of the International Day of Families will be conducted on-line. Registration is required. For further information, including the link to registration email Renata Kaczmarska at kaczmarska@un.org.

A family at Cixi wetlands.

Family policies are a mainstay of national public policies, and the most meaningful vehicle for governments to influence the living standards of upcoming generations. As part of achieving the global ambitions of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), family policies play an important part in meeting targets across many of the goals.

International days are occasions to educate the public on issues of concern, to mobilize political will and resources to address global problems, and to celebrate and reinforce achievements of humanity. The existence of international days predates the establishment of the United Nations, but the UN has embraced them as a powerful advocacy tool. We also mark other UN observances.