Global Day of Parents on June 1 Family policies can contribute to SDGs

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Great Bay, St. Maarten – Global Day of Parents is a United Nations (UN) observance that is celebrated on June 1 each year to honor parents and their commitment to children worldwide.

People all over the world have the opportunity show their appreciation for parents and parental figures for the vital role they play in the development of families. It’s a day when community leaders, parents, children, teachers, and family organizations can get together and promote effective parenting.

This UN observance recognizes parents as vital in providing protection and positive development for their children. Since the 1980s, the important role of the family has increasingly come to the attention of the international community. Some experts say that for the full and harmonious development of their personality, children should grow up in a family environment and in an atmosphere of happiness, love and understanding.

The central goals of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development adopted by world leaders focus on ending poverty, promoting shared economic prosperity, social development and people’s well-being while protecting the environment. Families remain at the center of social life. Parents are to ensure the well-being of their family members, educating and socializing their children and youth and caring for their younger and older generations.

Family-oriented policies, in particular, can contribute to the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals 1 to 5 relating to eradicate poverty and hunger; ensuring healthy lives and promoting of well-being for all ages. They promote also ensuring educational opportunities throughout the lifespan and achieving gender equality.

Parents and children’s rights

The principles outlined in the international human rights framework apply to children and adults. Children are mentioned explicitly in many of the human rights instruments. Standards are specifically modified, or adapted, where the needs and concerns are surrounding children right.

The Convention on the Rights of the Child makes clear that all children have the same rights and that   all rights are interconnected and of equal importance. The Convention stresses these principles and refers also to the responsibility of children to respect the rights of others, especially their parents.

The Convention furthermore, recognizes that parents have the most important role in the bringing up children. The text encourages parents to deal with rights issues with their children “in a manner consistent with the evolving capacities of the child” (article 5).

In St. Maarten, caring individuals have established foundations, such as the I Can Foundation and Christal Home, which specifically seek to assist children, who have become vulnerable because of their family situations. There are cases, where such a foundation even serves as a foster home.

Fathers

Traditionally in many societies, fathers have been moral teachers, disciplinarians and breadwinners.  In many countries, there is now an increased emphasis on the father’s role as a co-parent, fully engaged in the emotional and practical day-to-day aspects of raising children. Recent research has affirmed the positive impact of active involvement by fathers in the development of their children.

Yet challenges persist for fathers, for society and social policy. One can think of the many households where fathers are non-existent, with St. Maarten not being any different.

The European Court of Human Rights (het Europees Hof voor de Rechten van de Mens) has determined that a fatherless child has the right to have his/her biological father acknowledged. A child on Sint Maarten may petition the Court in First Instance of Sint Maarten to have the biological father acknowledged. Furthermore, the biological mother may petition the Court if the child is under the age of 12.

As understanding of fatherhood grows, there is an opportunity for men to re-envision what it means to be a father and to see opportunities to make a difference in their families and therefore in their communities.

Mothers

Mothers play a critical role in the family, which is a powerful force for social cohesion and integration.  The mother-child relationship is vital for the healthy development of children.

The most pervasive human rights violations of our time are violence against women, many of whom are mothers. On St. Maarten, several entities offer a shelter that provides support and assistance for women that have experienced abuse from their partners. They not only provide a safe space for women to heal and overcome abusive situations. They also provide education about domestic and intimate partner violence.

The benefits of educating women and girls  happens not only to individual families, but to whole countries, unlocking the potential of women to contribute to broader development efforts. Statistics also show that educated mothers are much more likely to keep their children in school, meaning that the benefits of education transcend generations. Altogether, it is no wonder that we now have a day to put our parents on a pedestal.