Family As Capital

Grandparents posing with grandchildrenThe UN has main events where the meetings of the commissions unfold; this consists of General Assemblies and closed negotiations. The other meetings are side events, where panels can present on a specific topic. These meetings are more interactive and detailed. I was able to go on a side event this weekend that examined the family as a source of capital. Susan Roylance was the main speaker. She recognized a need for further research in family when she and some others realized that the UN Millennium Development Goals of 2015 did not include family as a part of the goal.

She along with some others noticed that the family had been looked upon as a receiver in society, and a taker of goods, rather than a potential hub of innovative ideas that have much to offer to the world. She felt that this was a very damaging outlook on family and one that separates the positive impacts that family can have on economy and society. She believes that families are powerhouses and it is not possible to fulfill international goals without including the family.

She explained the importance of a stable family and how it is the most important contributor to excelling children. In her words, she said that family is an entry point into society. Children are made good citizens by their parents, then they grow up and become good citizens for their nation, and in turn a better nation makes for a better world.

With the exception of Signapore, all countries that have made great improvements in poverty also boasted a solid agriculture system. The majority of the world’s poor work in agriculture. Theodore Schultz a well-known Economist once said: “Most of the people in the world are poor, so if we knew the economics of being poor we would know much of the economics that really matters. Most of the world’s poor people earn their living from agriculture, so if we knew the economics of agriculture we would know much of the economics of being poor” (Shultz, 1979).

Roylance used her own experiences with orphanages to explore this.  Roylance said that no matter how great the facilities of an orphanage are; they are not ideal conditions for a child to be raised.  In her experience, what has worked to efficiently remove children from orphanages is to help families grow in agriculture production, once they are economically stable they can adopt an orphan, which highlights the importance of governments with good infrastructure.

This side event helped me to see the family as one where parents and children engage in life together; it was referred to as a “virtuous web.” It is important for governments to create efficient infrastructure that can aid in family’s dedication for their children. Families are the inner beginnings of all of society. Mother Theresa once said, “What can you do to promote world peace? Go home and love your family.” Family is the smallest unit of society and it is where the dynamics of the future world are birthed.

Monica Kim is an intern for WYA North America