Following is UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s message for the International Day of Families, observed on 15 May:
This year’s International Day of Families falls at a time of upheaval and tragedy for families around the world. The rise of violent extremism, the effects of forced displacement, extreme weather events and other challenges are taking a heavy toll on the health and integrity of families in crisis situations. Even in relatively stable societies, families still struggle with violence, discrimination and poverty.
Families are on the frontlines of our global efforts to realize the bold and inclusive 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. They are particularly essential to achieving Sustainable Development Goal 3, in which all United Nations Member States committed to promoting healthy lives and well-being for all at all ages.
Children thrive when they receive love, as well as health care, education and other basics. During the sensitive time of adolescence, young people need emotional support along with reproductive health information and services. Young lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender people suffer much higher suicide rates than the general population, making their safety and acceptance a matter of public health.
In many societies, women and girls experience discrimination and violence within the family, which can have serious and lifelong effects on their health and well-being. Family life is also crucial to the health of older people, who stay active and healthy when their contributions are appreciated in the family and community.
Governments must support the crucial role of families in all their diverse forms. They should provide access to reproductive health services so that parents can decide on the timing and size of their families. Maternal health care and paternal leave are also vital to enable parents to give their newborns the best possible start in life.
I call on Governments, businesses, institutions and other partners to recognize that caregiving is an essential part of family life. Everyone needs care from family members at some point in their lives — and all should be able to provide that care when the need arises.
Promoting supportive family environments and positive parenting through policies and laws can help families raise healthy, happy children who can grow into valued, productive adults.
Leaving no one behind means leaving no family behind.
On this International Day of Families, let us resolve to advance sustainable development by creating a supportive environment where all family members of all ages can realize their potential to contribute to our world.