Oral Intervention to the 46th Session of the United Nations Commission for Social Development
15 février 2008
United Nations Commission for Social Development
Item 3(b) of the Provisional Agenda
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 “Promoting Full Employment and Decent Work for All.”
The United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights recognizes the family as the basic unit of society, entitled to protection by society and the State. Several General Assembly resolutions have also emphasized that the family should be strengthened and receive comprehensive support.
Employment, as stated in the report by the Secretary General, is an intergenerational issue. It is linked directly to the economic and financial security of families through the employment of parents, which implicitly affects younger family members.
Since families play a central role in cushioning the affects of social vulnerability, Governments and the United Nations should assist families to reconcile work and family life and help them maintain a viable balance between these two facets of life. There should be an increased awareness of the needs and stresses marriages and families encounter when work and family life are not balanced. Decent working conditions and hours should be addressed.
Special attention should be given to families in times of unemployment to alleviate difficult conditions. Otherwise there will be a deleterious effect on marital life, family life and children’s well-being. Policies need to be developed that strengthen social networks and community organizations that assist unemployed members of the family.
Education and human skills are major factors determining productivity both in the workplace and in society. The family is a major producer of the skills and motivation required for producing successful students and workers. Bolstered families will produce better educated students, more trained workers, and better citizens. They can also help to reduce and prevent such social ills as child labor, juvenile delinquency, and crime.
Disadvantaged families should be assisted with supplemented childrearing resources. Other programs, such as preschool for children from disadvantaged families, should be enacted to help these children supplement and strengthen skills they may not be learning or obtaining from their families at home.
Older persons should be encouraged to stay active and independent and act as mentors to youth and unemployed adults.
Meaningful activities should also be given to adolescents in preparation for future employment. As an example, the Greek Orthodox Archdiocesan Council provides internships for teenagers to serve as counselors at its summer camps both in the United States and abroad, provides opportunities for young volunteers to help build schools, health clinics, dig wells, and help establish local businesses in villages in Africa, Asia and Eastern Europe. An ongoing program invites teenagers to build houses for poor families in Tijuana, Mexico.
The important contribution of unremunerated work to social well-being and to bringing respect, dignity and value to such work should be acknowledged. Promoting socially useful volunteer work and allocating appropriate resources to support such work should be encouraged without diluting the objectives regarding employment expansion.
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 and to prevent the social isolation or stigmatization of those who need protection.
Social protection should be provided for people in poverty who cannot find work, who cannot work due to sickness, disability, old age, maternity, or caring for children. Social support services in partnerships with charitable and religious organizations should be encouraged.
Special priority should be given in the design of policies to the problems of structural, long-term unemployment and underemployment of youth, women, persons with disabilities and other disadvantaged groups and individuals. All family members should have access to education, job training and job re-training if they are unemployed as well as access to technology and technical assistance.
The Greek Orthodox Archdiocesan Council wishes to strongly urge the Commission to consider these key family issues in its final outcome document on promoting full employment and decent work for all.