What is International Day of Families?

Mother Teresa was once asked the question, “What can you do to promote world peace?“ Her answer? “Go home and love your family.”

Mother Teresa was right. Even though it’s easy to forget at times, family is the most important thing in the world. This could mean your mother, your father, your siblings, your spouse, your grandparents, your aunts, your uncles, your cousins, your in-laws – but for some, it’s simply those with whom we share unconditional love.

You certainly didn’t ask for them, and you can’t trade ’em, but out of the billions of human beings on our planet, they’re the ones who know you best. They’re the ones who cherish you, and whom you should cherish in return – whether they’re your biological family or otherwise.

No family is perfect… we argue, we fight. We even stop talking to each other at times. But in the end, family is family… the love will always be there. And family isn’t always blood. It’s the people in your life who want you in theirs. The ones who accept you for who you are. The ones who would do anything to see you smile, and who love you you no matter what.

So important is family in the structure of global humanity that the United Nations General Assembly has declared an International Day of Families. This is observed on May the 15th every year in all UN countries, including New Zealand. It is a day when we stop and reflect on the importance the international community places on family. The designated day also provides the opportunity to promote awareness of issues relating to families and increase knowledge of the social, economic and demographic processes affecting families.

2016 theme for International Day of Families

‘Families, healthy lives and sustainable future’ is this year’s theme which will inspire a series of awareness-raising events, including national family days. You can expect various government and non-government agencies, plus community groups to highlight different areas of importance to families through workshops, conferences, radio and television exposure, newspaper articles and cultural events.

No matter what, families remain at the centre of social life ensuring the well-being of their members, educating and socializing children and youth and caring for young and old. In particular, on a global scale, family-oriented policies can contribute greatly to ending poverty and hunger; ensuring healthy lives and promoting of well-being for all ages; ensuring educational opportunities throughout the lifespan and achieving gender equality.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon sums up the importance of family perfectly in his powerful quote: “Equitable social and economic development depends on fair legal frameworks and social norms that support the rights of women and children. Discriminatory laws and practices that do not give equal rights to all, and that suppress women’s and children’s rights, have no place in contemporary families, communities, societies and nations.”

So why not plan your own personal family gathering and reflect on how important each member is to you? Celebrate what you have achieved and talk about what you can do better – open communication, ideas and action make for better family life, whatever your ethnicity.

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