Doha International Family Institute Executive Director Noor Al Jehani speaking at the UN Commission for Social Development at the UN headquarters in New York.
DOHA: The Doha International Family Institute (DIFI) has called for policy changes in the Arab world to strengthen the family saying that the unprecedented levels of conflict and unrest in the region continue to threaten the stability of families.
Speaking at the recent 52nd session of the United Nations (UN) Commission for Social Development at the UN Head Quarters in New York, DIFI’s Executive Director, Noor Al Jehani said: “Although the family is confirmed as the basic unit of society in most constitutions in the Arab world, and the family’s strength, stability and commitment to its individual members is considered the foundation of national and regional development trajectories — the reality is far removed from this ideal.”
“Across the region, the family unit has not been an essential component in the policy development as individuals remain the focus of national strategies. Hence, across the region explicit family policies are rare and do not meet international standards, like maternity leave,” she added.
Noor went on to address the economic impact of family breakdowns saying: “Failing to support and protect family relationships results in eventual family breakdowns which are extremely costly in economic terms. The macro socio-economic implications of such breakdowns need to be quantified transparently with regards to their subsequent burden on the economy and the taxpayers.”
Noor also highlighted potential ways to build a family centered policy framework which would include working to end poverty, maternal mortality, child marriages and domestic violence. Additionally, she stressed the need for policies that empower families to change their own lives instead of those that seek to overtake their functions.
The suggested policies include those that support relationship building through education for couples and parents; to support rather than penalise two-parent families; recognise the value of empowering the role of men in families allowing them to play an active role with childcare; recognise and respect the equal rights of women within the family as well as their rights as individuals; to recognise childbirth as a social function and guarantee families the rights to social and economic support for childcare, allowing couples to balance their family and work responsibilities; address the needs of families who care for elderly and disabled family members; and to support intergenerational living arrangements.
DIFI also held a briefing at the UN about the upcoming Doha Conference themed ‘Empowering Families: A Pathway to Development’ in which H E Alya Al Thani, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of the Qatar to the UN praised DIFI and the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs’ efforts aimed at a better understanding of family issues.