ISF 2014 Examines the Role of the Family in Development with WYA Members from around the World


Monday March 31 – Friday April 4, New York

The 2014 International Solidarity Forum (ISF), World Youth Alliance’s annual member training event, took place from March 31-April 4 at WYA’s headquarters in New York and at the United Nations.  The conference gathered WYA’s most active members from around the world to discuss “The Family: Backbone of Development.”

The conference responded to the theme of 2014, which the United Nations declared the International Year of the Family.  The ISF joined this international celebration to examine the relationship between healthy families and the economic and social development of societies.

The conference included a tour of the UN, an opening address by Ambassador Carlos Enrique Garcia Gonzalez of El Salvador, a cocktail reception for participants, a WYA Orchestra concert, and a film screening at the UN featuring winners of the 2014 Manhattan International Film Festival.

Expert speakers, policy makers, and academics addressed the topic of the family.  WYA Research and Policy Specialist, Meghan Grizzle Fischer, conducted an Advocacy Academy to train the members on international law, human rights, and the family; maternal health; and population and sustainable development. Bradford Wilcox, director of the National Marriage Project at University of Virginia, spoke on Family and Development. David Lapp, Research Fellow at the Institute for Family Studies and currently writing Love Like Crazy: Looking for Marriage in Middle America, spoke on future implications for the family.  Founder of The Anonymous US Project, Alana Newman, spoke about 3rd party reproduction and the debate on family and bioethics.  Rhodes Scholar and Princeton PhD and Yale Law Student, Sherif Girgis, addressed 21st century challenges and threats to the family. 

Kathryn Lopez from the National Review moderated a panel discussion by Alana Newman; Vincent Ogutu, Founding Director of the MBA Program at Strathmore Business School in Nairobi; Cristian Rodriguez from Universidad de los Andes; and Cristina Napolitano from the International Federation for Family Development.  The last day of the conference included a presentation on WYA’s Human Dignity Curriculum (HDC) and a Fertility Education and Medical Management (FEMM) training.

Members also negotiated the Declaration on Family and Development (available soon on WYA’s website).  WYA’s newest declaration details how strong, healthy families are vital for economic development. It represents the combined efforts of our members, interns, and staff, and will be used in our advocacy work.

On the last day of the ISF, participants and staff members explored New York City. The day started with a ferry ride to Staten Island and close up views of the Statue of Liberty. From there, the trip continued on Wallstreet in Lower Manhattan, where the group saw some of the oldest buildings left in New York City. After a lunch of classic New York pizza, the day ended at the largest art museum in the United States of America, the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

2014’s ISF started as a weeklong conference for critical examination of the family but ended with new friendships, fun activities, exhilarating discussion, and visits to iconic sights in New York City.  From policy discussions to deepened friendships at the ISF, young people learned that the family is an invaluable contribution to society.

More information on next year’s ISF coming to the WYA website soon!

Checkout the ISF 2014 album on the World Youth Alliance Facebook page to see what happened at ISF 2014.