The forum, which included panelists from the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness, the Greater Washington Urban League, and Atlanta-based Commission Against Diseases of Poverty, convened in the Rayburn Building and was sponsored by Congressman Hank Johnson (Georgia, 4th District) and co-sponsored by the Strengthening Families and Communities Coalition.
Mr. Davis thanked the Global Peace Leadership Forum for bringing the issue of family poverty to the halls of Congress and used the occasion to deliver UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s 2011 message on the International Day of Families:
Far too many families endure chronic, punishing hardship. Lacking jobs and the means to make ends meet, adults are unable to provide adequate nutrition for children, leaving them with lifelong physical and cognitive scars. Other family members can suffer neglect and deprivation. Poverty continues to claim the lives of hundreds of thousands of women each year in childbirth.
A family of the Madi tribe returns home from a refugee camp in Uganda. (UN Photo/Tim McKulka )
Social exclusion is often at the root of the problem. Discrimination and unequal access to social services deprive families of the opportunity to plan a better future for their children.
Certain types of families are at particular risk, including large families, single-parent families, families where the main breadwinners are unemployed or suffer from illness or disability, families with members who suffer discrimination based on sexual orientation, and families living in urban slums or rural areas. Indigenous and migrant families, as well as those living through conflict or unrest, are also on the front lines of marginalization and deprivation.
A number of governments have adopted family-focused strategies, including cash transfer programmes, child allowances, tax incentives and specific gender- and child-sensitive social protection measures. An expansion of these policies, which can improve the nutrition and educational status of children, can help end cycles of poverty that persist across generations.
On this International Day of Families, let us resolve to support families as they nurture the young, care for the old and foster strong communities built on tolerance and dignity for all. —Ban Ki-moon (message for International Day of Families, 2011)
The International Day of Families was proclaimed by the UN General Assembly resolution in 1993 and reflects the recognition of the family as the fundamental socializing institution of society among the world's diverse nations and cultures. The International Day provides an opportunity to promote awareness of issues relating to families and increase the knowledge of the social, economic and demographic processes affecting families.
Reported by Eric Olsen