April 14, 2017
A Double-Header of Good News: “Family” Language Back on Track at the UN!
After years of not being able to substantively address “family” in UN documents, the dry spell has ended and “family” is back in a Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) Agreed Conclusions document! Even though there are numerous countries that support the language of Article 16 of the Universal Declaration (1948) stating “The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society,” those countries haven’t been able to get much traction for “pro-family” language in recent years. That all changed in March as countries held strong and were bold in their defense of the inclusion of family language. Their efforts were aided by a U.S. state department, who under a new administration, were no longer an obstacle to the efforts of pro-life and pro-family delegations.
Then, just one week later at the UN Commission on Population and Development (CPD), the pro-family forces scored another big win as the commission ended without an Agreed Conclusions document! The last-minute Chairman’s text was completely rejected, something that rarely happens. We cheer because not adopting a commission document means one less UN document with language that is adversarial to life and family.
Some examples of “good” language from the CSW document
We’ve mentioned there has been a dearth of “family” language in recent years. But here are some phrases from the text of CSW61 Agreed Conclusions:
– “an enabling family environment…contributes to development”
– “women and men make a great contribution to the welfare of their family”
– “in particular women´s contribution to the home, including unpaid care and domestic work, which is still not adequately recognized, generates human and social capital essential for social and economic development”
– “Strengthen laws and regulatory frameworks that promote the reconciliation and sharing of work and family responsibilities for women and men, including by designing, implementing and promoting family responsive legislation”
Parental Rights were also given a shot in the arm
“recognize further that empowering girls requires their active participation in decision-making processes…with the active support and engagement of their parents, legal guardians, families…”
And in an even more surprising turn of events, “fatherhood” was mentioned in a positive way:
– “bearing in mind the important role and responsibilities of, and challenges faced by fathers, including young fathers, in this regard”
– “Recognize the social significance of maternity, paternity, motherhood, fatherhood and the role of parents in the upbringing of children”
Mother’s work in caring for their children labeled “a burden”
In spite of early language which had labeled “unpaid care work” – mothers caring for their children – as “a burden” to be “recognized, reduced, and redistributed” – even calling for attention to be given to “national care services”- the concept was soundly defeated. This deletion caused countries of the EU to bitterly complain that the final document “reinforced a stereotypical role of women and girls and doesn’t contribute to their economic independence.” But we know otherwise!
Women have many choices in life and marginalizing motherhood – not recognizing women who choose to become and are fulfilled by the role of motherhood – sets women’s rights back, rather than advancing them. United Families International engaged in a successful social media campaign to let the world know that #LoveIsNotABurden and #EmpowerMothers. It’s not too late to join in.
A positive voice for families and for family values
During the two weeks of CSW, the United Families International (UFI) team was kept exceptionally busy! Along with assistance from an amazing team of nine college students and three professors from BYU-Idaho, we were able to meet with delegates and/or ambassadors from 38 countries, which is our highest number yet! April Gallart, UFI’s mission visit coordinator, shared some more good news:
We all noticed an increased desire [among the diplomats] to stand for families and traditional values; something we haven’t seen so much of in past years. It felt like the tide was turning. These countries have experienced the very real harms from some of the UN’s women’s and children’s programs, programs they were pressured into accepting, and they’re now eager and hungry for resources and support to move forward in ways that align with their culture, traditions, and religious values.
United Families International was a co-sponsor for three UN side events (an event that has a country as a sponsor). We were honored to engage with the countries of Kenya, Nigeria and the Group of the Friends of the Family (a coalition of 25 countries), along with numerous other pro-life/pro-family groups. The topics for the three events included:
1. “Root Causes of Trafficking in Persons,”
2. “The Family: The Engine for Women’s Development in the SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals)”
3. “The Role of the Family in Achieving the SDGs for Women, Children and Men”
UFI was fortunate to have UFI team members Dr. Tim Rarick and Marcia Barlow, present at these events – in fact Dr. Rarick presented at two side events and shared his understanding of the importance of fathers in children’s lives. Tim Rarick is always a crowd pleaser as well as delivers information that is rarely heard at the UN.
Toward the end of the two-week long commission, UFI was able to join with Operation Underground Railroad(OUR) in a parallel event presentation on “The Day After Rescue: Fostering education and economic empowerment in human trafficking survivors.” The Operation Underground Railroad team did a phenomenal job of explaining not only their amazing work, around the world, of rescuing children from sex traffickers, but also what happens to the women and children after they are rescued.
All in, it has been a very good few weeks for the family! We realize that the work of protecting the family is far from over and the battles do continue, but we feel blessed and honored to stand with you for the family and for children – including the unborn – who can’t speak for themselves. We feel it has been a long time since we’ve been able to share such good news and we hope it makes you feel a little braver and a little bolder in your support of the things you hold dear.