ESPERANZA! Promotion of Family in the UN High Level Meeting on the Youth

The Value of Family Promotion in Protecting the Intrinsic Dignity of the Human Person

The World Youth Alliance welcomes the General Assembly’s proclamation of the International Year of Youth: Dialogue and Mutual Understanding. Youth represent a significant proportion of the world and are therefore not only the future, but also the present. The World Youth Alliance recognizes that educating and empowering youth is integral to the improvement of social and economic conditions and the well-being and livelihood of future generations. The World Youth Alliance also recognizes that all persons have intrinsic dignity; it is only through respecting this dignity that the ideals of peace, freedom, justice, tolerance, respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, solidarity and development can be effectively achieved.

With this as our foundation, it is clear that authentic human development begins with investment in the human person. This needs to ensure that the person is placed in the right conditions and environment to foster his well-being, fulfillment and productivity. Such investment must begin with the family, which the Universal Declaration of Human Rights declares is the “fundamental unit of society.”

The family promotes a stable environment that is necessary for the person to flourish. Children with supportive parents are more likely to be engaged with their school education at home and receive help from their parents if faced with difficulties. Also, with the support of the family, children are encouraged to strongly value their education and are often guided to pursue post-secondary education. With a supportive family, an attitude of positive optimism and future ambition is cultivated. Indeed, the family encourages development of skills and concepts necessary for social change. For instance, the family plays an invaluable role in the child’s development of language and speech and the nurturing of cognitive abilities. This is consistent with the established relationship between language and power and the fact that language is fundamental to human agency and social transformation.

Discrimination, isolation and poverty are integrally linked. When the person is isolated from her family she is more susceptible to discrimination due to the associated vulnerability that comes with the absence of support and solidarity. The UN Committee on Educational, Social and Cultural Rights has correctly recognized that poverty is often caused by people having no access to existing resources because of who they are, what they believe or where they live. Especially in developing countries, belonging to a family provides more locus standi, and allows for easier integration into the wider community.

Statistics have shown a clear and consistent relationship between the ideal of united families and economic buoyancy. For instance, when compared to single adults, married adults have a significantly higher average household income. Likewise children of married parents in comparison to those of unmarried parents have been found to do better economically. The breakdown of the family unit goes against the world’s aspirations for forward strides to be made in social and economic matters. Research has shown that divorced adults, especially women, experience greater economic hardship.

Promoting the family is essential to providing the right conditions for the human person to develop and flourish. The simple and yet integral value of family promotion is often overlooked in international documents. Promoting the family would have far-reaching positive effects on education and empowerment of the human person. It will also work to negate the possibilities of discrimination and thus enhance dialogue and mutual understanding as well as increase the integration of youth within society at large. Strong family units lead to the development of strong young men and women, empowered and equipped to positively contribute to our world, and to ensure the dignity of every person is recognized. The World Youth Alliance recognizes that dignity is something shared by all human persons and therefore there must be solidarity in recognizing this immutable fact. The essence of family promotion is to promote solidarity in its most fundamental form.

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