UPF Organizes Side Events to the UN Commission on Social Development

New York, USA - In coordination with diplomats and other NGOs, UPF organized side events to the 52nd session of the UN Commission on Social Development in February 2014. Two events emphasized the family as a key driver of international development (Feb. 19) and social development (Feb. 20). A third event was the release of the documentary film “The Power of Mothers and their Effect upon the World” (Feb. 21).

The Feb. 11-21 commission meetings at the UN headquarters in New York addressed this year's theme of "Promoting empowerment of people in achieving poverty eradication, social integration and full employment and decent work for all."

Forum on “Family Capital: The Key to International Development”

The Howard Center for Family, Religion and Society organized a side event on "Family Capital: The Key to International Development."

Marcia Barlow, vice president for international affairs of United Families International, gave an in-depth explanation of family capital as a critical resource for social development and stability.

Anita Joos Eyre, public relations manager of the Family Preservation Program in Mozambique, gave an excellent example of utilizing family capital to lift communities out of poverty, family by family, in the poorest areas of Africa. Because these families were directly involved, they took ownership in the success of their family's farms, creating family productivity that has continued to be self-sustaining and expanding now for decades.

Lynn Walsh, director of UPF's Office of Marriage, Family and Human Development, discussed different traits of males and females which when balanced in mutual respect and complementarity in marriage, parenting and society create not only synergy but raise the value of each gender; decrease discrimination, social exclusion and abuse of females; and teach the next generation mutual gender respect and cooperation.

Susan Roylance, the international policy and social development coordinator of the Howard Center for Family, Religion and Society, referring to the recent publication, "The Family and the MDGs: Using Family Capital to Achieve the Millennium Development Goals," gave more examples of the use of family capital in eradicating poverty, reducing maternal and infant mortality, decreasing HIV/AIDS, and increasing health and education in developing countries.

These presentations were significant and timely in light of the UN's current focus in drawing up the Sustainable Development Goals. It is hoped that including the family as a critical resource for achieving these goals can make a noticeable difference, in contrast to the disappointing results of the MDGs. This session, held in a meeting room of the UN New Lawn Building, was well attended.

Forum on “The Family as a Social Driver for Social Development”

UPF co-sponsored with four missions a side event discussing the essential role of the family for social development. This was a timely topic as much of the UN is facing the disappointing results of the soon-to-expire Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), and the focus is on creating the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This year is also the 20th anniversary of the International Year of the Family. Much of the discussion addressed the need to correct the mistake in not including the family in the MDGs by promoting the role of the family for achieving the SDGs.

More than 120 people gathered to hear the presentations in the very large, multi-tiered ECOSOC Chamber in the UN. The impressiveness of the panel and the seriousness of the issue seemed to be further pronounced by sitting in this grand and stately chamber.

Both co-chairs, H.E. Mr. Carlos Enrique Garcia Gonzalez, ambassador and permanent representative of El Salvador, and H.E. Mrs. Joy Ogwu, ambassador and permanent representative of Nigeria, spoke strongly about the family being the essential beginning point for the well-being of every person and fundamental for social development.

UPF was represented in the first session by the moderator, Secretary General Tageldin Hamad, and President Dr. Thomas Walsh, who remarked on the role of families in teaching values and character traits that make people responsible citizens.

In the second session, the speakers, H.E. Ms. Alya Ahmed Seif Al-Thani, ambassador and permanent representative of the State of Qatar, and H.E. Mrs. Simona Mirela Miculescu, ambassador and permanent representative of Romania, made clear arguments for the central role of families in the development of their countries as well as worldwide.

The third session, moderated by Dr. Florence Denmark, former president of the International Council of Psychologists, focused on policies and practices that include and strengthen the family. 

Susan Roylance of the Howard Center for Family, Religion and Society gave examples of programs that focus not on individuals but on the family, noting that these have been highly successful in decreasing poverty and promoting gender equality and environmental protection in developing countries.

Sharon Slater, president of Family Watch International, summarized key ways that the family will help achieve the SDGs.

Cristina Napolitano, UN representative of the International Federation for Family Development, described ways their programs strengthen parenting and family functioning around the world.

Lynn Walsh of UPF presented research on the need to teach young people healthy relationships, showing negative consequences of the sexual focus of the youth culture.

The most heart-felt presentation, “Why Family Matters,” was given by Luis Belchoir, originally from Mozambique. He shared the tragic reality he and his sibling endured after losing both parents to HIV. His story added a raw accent to all the presentations; the value of life and children’s desperate need for a family and why policies, practices and the implementations of the SDGs must include this fundamental unit for social development.

Film launch: “The Power of Mothers and their Effect upon the World”

UPF co-sponsored with the Power of Mothers the launching of a very moving documentary film, "The Power of Mothers and Their Effect upon the World.” As this event took place at the Millennium Hotel, across from the UN headquarters where the Commission for Social Development was meeting, several UN delegates, representatives from the UN Secretariat and staff of NGOs associated with the UN were able to attend.

The film, comprised of numerous interviews with leaders in the areas of social science, demography, policy and religion, highlighted the unique qualities and capacities of mothers. It gave numerous examples of the innate maternal tenderness, sacrifices and dedication, given every day in every corner of the world, upon which the well-being of each person and all humanity are dependent.

The program was opened by Lynn Walsh of UPF with a brief observation that many college-aged women have lost sight of the value of motherhood.

The founder of the Power of Mothers and executive producer of the film, Shelly Locke, was warmly introduced by Doug Clark, director of UN affairs for the Howard Center for Family, Religion and Society. She welcomed the ambassadors and other UN representatives and asked that each consider how they might be able to use the film for their work in building stronger societies and supporting mothers throughout the world. When the film ended, Shelly Locke was congratulated by all for the accomplishment of the film and her passion and clarity of purpose behind the film’s creation.

The New York launching of this documentary was well timed, because 2014 marks the 20th Anniversary of the United Nations International Year of the Family, to be celebrated all year around the world but especially on May 15, the International Day of Families.

For more information about the film, see the website www.thepowerofmothers.com; plans are to make it available for purchase.
For more information about the UN Commission for Social Development, click here.

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