Poverty and the Family

 

Oral Intervention to the 54th Session of the United Nations Commission for Social Development

12 February 2016

United Nations Commission for Social Development
Fifty-Fourth Session
Item 3(b) of the Provisional Agenda

Mr. Chairman,

The Greek Orthodox Archdiocesan Council appreciates the opportunity to address the Commission on Social Development on the issue of poverty and the family.

The Secretary General has declared that the defining challenge of our time is to close the gap between our determination to ensure a life of dignity for all on the one hand and the reality of persisting poverty and deepening inequality on the other.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights recognizes the family as the basic unity of society entitled to protection by society and the State. Several General Assembly resolutions have emphasized that the family be strengthened and receive comprehensive support.

Families living in poverty experience lack of income, hunger and malnutrition, ill-health, limited access to education, inadequate housing, unsafe environment and social exclusion.

According to a report from the National Center for Children in Poverty at Columbia University, poverty stymies performance of children in school and negatively affects their mental and physical health. Poor children are more likely to suffer a higher rate of cognitive delays and development disorders. Absent interventions, these children face difficulty in transcending the disadvantage of their early lives and as adults are likely to perpetuate a cycle of poverty that can consume generations.

Falling family incomes force parents to make cuts in education expenditures for their children.

Family centered policies by governments should be advanced to help families come out of poverty.

For years Brazil has had a program called BALSA FAMILIA which essentially hands money to mothers living in poverty. In return they have to ensure that their children go to school and avail themselves of health care services. This has been enormously effective in reducing poverty.

Also, family focused society transfer programs, including cash transfers, can shield families, improve child nutrition, school attendance and reduce child labor.

Governments should ensure universal access to social services for families in poverty, provide quality education and health services and extend the scope of social protection programs.

Economic empowerment is critical for poverty eradication. All family members who are unemployed should have access to education, job training, job retraining, as well as access to technology and technical assistance.

Micro-finance initiatives have been successful in addressing people living in poverty especially women who wish to start small businesses.

Rural development and sustainable agriculture with special consideration of the smallholder farmer is essential for food security.

The Greek Orthodox Archdiocesan Council, in partnership with International Orthodox Christian Charities, the Autocephalous Church of Albania, and Agricultural Department of the University of Maryland has been undertaking a regional effort to help rural farmers increase their income and improve sustainable access to food for families. Farmers receive raining on insects and diseases that affect late season vegetables and instruction is given on how to conduct tests to measure soil texture. Field schools held in the region have given farmers the opportunity to discuss problems they face. The proper preparation and care of a seed bed, transplanting measures for saplings, tomato production in greenhouses and technical information for mushrooms, herbs, onions, lettuce, and garlic are taught. Farmers learn new methods to increase farm income and expand market opportunities. This project helps farmers to not only be more productive but also supplies more food to the local communities. The same program has been conducted in Kosovo and Montenegro.

Mr. Chairman, by 2030, we must double the agricultural productivity and incomes of small-scale food producers, particularly, women, indigenous people, and family farmers.