Poverty and the Family

Oral Intervention to the 52nd Session of the United Nations Commission for Social Development

21 febbraio 2014

United Nations Commission for Social Development
Fifty-Second 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.

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

Families are the basic building blocks of society.  Governments should protect and strengthen family well-being by addressing family poverty and work family balance.

According to the Secretary-General’s report in preparation for the observance of the twentieth anniversary of the International Year of the Family, families bear the responsibility for the socialization of children and their success in school.

Falling family incomes force parents to make cuts in education expenditures for their children.  Family empowerment through appropriate family-centered policies should be advanced.

For the last 10 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 families focused social transfer programs including cash transfers can shield families, improve child nutrition and school attendance as well as reduce child labor.

Governments should ensure universal access to social services to 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.

Microfinance initiatives have been successful in addressing people living in poverty especially women who wish to start small business.

An initiative taken by the International Orthodox Christian Charities has been very successful.  According to UNICEF over the past year two million youngsters inside Syria were forced to drop out of school.  Many schools inside Syria now serve as emergency shelters for displaced families.  One million child refugees who fled Syria empty-handed lack the supplies and uniforms to attend classes in host country schools.  In 2013, The International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC) which works in partnership with the Greek Orthodox Archdiocesan Council together with the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch helped employ displaced Syrian parents who live in shelters.  They are employed to sew new school uniforms for more than 1,000 school aged children.  Many of the 34 tailors and seamstresses making the uniforms are displaced mothers and fathers residing at the school shelters.

Mr. Chairman,

The Greek Orthodox Archdiocesan Council urges the Commission to consider key family issues in its final document and urges governments and civil societies to develop public and private partnerships to empower people living in poverty.

Thank you.