May 15, International Day of Families

On May 15, a celebratory conference otional Day of Families during the International Year of the Family was held at the European Economic and Social Committee. Organized by Federation of Catholic Family Associations.  Daniel Wisniewski, Regional Director for WYA Europe delivered an intervention on the youth perspective.

In the light of the historical times that the Europe is journeying through,  the international day of families was on occasion to raise the awareness of how well the Europe’s policies impact families positively, and how European families are faring in the times of current crisis.

Following a discussion of the place of debate about the family in international organisations and regional institutions such as the UN and the EU respectively, the opportunities and challenges to the family were laid out by Daniel Wisniewski, Regional Director of World Youth Alliance Europe.  Whereas the family is the basic unit of society as the privileged space where children learn to relate to one another, experience their inalienable worth and thereby acts as a blueprint for future relations;  "families are often understood as a means rather than and ends in itself by governmental and intergovernmental institutions."

When families are mentioned at the policy level, it is only in connection to demographics and intergenerational solidarity.  This quietness about the family has given way to present threats to the family that do not come from policies but from our culture. The rise of individualism that prizes individual success above human relationships has unravelled a crisis of trust among young people.  We live in a society where "young people are connected to each other but do not relate to one another” according to Mr. Wisniewski, describing what people experience when they do not trust themselves or the other to able to commit to a long lasting loving relationship to start a family. "Thanks to globalisation and social media, people know many more people than previously, yet they still feel alone" he remarked. Mr. Wisniewski, joined the other NGO representatives in calling for a family mainstreaming in EU policies in order to better monitor the impact that legislation, economic trends and policy trends impact families in EU member states.

Tobias Teuscher, Secretary of the Intergroup on family, children’s rights and intergenerational solidarity, European parliament  argued that we had to rethink motherhood as a an activity that calls upon stay at home parents to deploy their professional skills to the effective and caring management of their home and their children’s education and development. As such, Ms Branka Moynana, a wife and mother in Brussels agreed with Mr. Teuscher that as such motherhood should be understood as a form of self-employment and social entrepreneurship.

Similar calls for the professionalization of carers and parents were made by Olalla Michelena, Secretary General at Make Mothers Matter Europe and Madeleine Wallin, President of the European Federation for Parents and Carers at Home.

The celebration was closed by a formal reception at the European Economic and Social Committee.