The Eradication of Poverty and the Family

Oral Intervention to the 50th Session of the United Nations Commission for Social Development

10 février 2012

United Nations Commission for Social Development
Fiftieth 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 and wishes to emphasize the importance of family in the consideration of the Commission’s priority theme of Poverty Eradication

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights recognizes the family as the basic unit of society, entitled to protection by society and the State.

According to the Secretary-General’s Report on Poverty Eradication, countries that have developed comprehensive universal social protection covering the majority of the population have successfully reduced poverty and improved social conditions on a broad scale.

Families bear the primary responsibility for the socialization of children and the development of their social skills.  Parenting plays a significant role in children’s success in school and contributes to the development of society’s human capital.

Economic stress jeopardizes family cohesion and has been linked to domestic violence and divorce as well as neglect and abuse of children.

Family focussed social transfer programs including cash transfers shield families from economic shocks, improve child nutrition and school attendance, reduce child labor and helps prevent the transfer of poverty to future generations.

Non-contributing pensions for older persons living with families have had an impact on nutrition and poverty according to the Secretary-General’s Report on the International Year of the Family in 2014.  In Namibia, older persons use their pensions to invest in livestock, agricultural activities and access credit.  In Mauritius, non-contributing pensions reduced the rate of poverty in households with older persons.  In Latin America impact of family-oriented cash transfer programs have shown positive outcomes in children’s education, health and nutrition.

The strongest improvement in living conditions of families with children is reported in countries that have provisions for services such as child care, food and housing subsidies, medical care, flexible working arrangements and maternity protection at work.

Social protection and support programs to help people become self-sufficient should be designated to assist and protect families and to reintegrate people excluded from economic activity.

All family members if they are unemployed should have access to education, job training and job retraining as well as access to technology and technical assistance.

Partnerships with charitable and religious organizations should be encouraged to help with this.

The Greek Orthodox Archdiocesan Council in partnership with the International Orthodox Christian Charities and the University of Maryland have been providing technical assistance to rural farmers to increase their income and increase access to food for families.  These programs have been conducted in Albania, Kosovo and Montenegro.  They also established a centralized collection center for wild plants and herbs and opened a market for locally grown products in a remote area of Kosovo.  The collection center was equipped with a grant and is managed by a local association for the benefit of the community.  Through small fees paid by those who use the center, the rented facility is sustained and families are able to sell wild edible mushrooms and herbs.  The center offers renewable and important source of income for the people of this area.

Mr. Chairman,

The Greek Orthodox Archdiocesan Council strongly urges the Commission to consider these key family issues in its final document, and urges Governments to increase their investment in small scale agriculture in order to help feed the majority of the world’s populations.

Thank you.