Communal, Fiscal Structures That Impact On Family Structure
5/21/2012 3:30:55 PM -
Each year the International Day of Families is celebrated on May 15. The day is observed to promote awareness on issues relating to families and to increase the knowledge of the social, and demographic processes affecting families. The theme chosen for 2012 is: “Ensuring Work Family Balance”
The year 1994 was announced as the International Year of Families by the United Nations. This was meant to alter communal and fiscal structures, which have affected and still have an impact upon the structure and steadiness of family units in many countries in the world.
The event is to help families ponder on the work started in 1994 and to rejoice about the significance of families, people, civilisations and cultures around the world. It has been held every year since 1995.
The International Federation for Home Economics in a statement to mark the event said several socio-economic and demographic trends had led to significant changes in family and work life. It said due to several developments, i.e., new life styles and job requirements, the household size has decreased in the last decade of years while the geographical distance between family members increased.
The trend on the labour market in the last years has heightened work load, especially for women, while increased number of women in paid work, increased working hours and weekend work, as well as job insecurity lead to pressure from an increasingly competitive work environment.
Heightened work-load and worries about job security can lead to stress and health problems with emotional “spill-over” into the home.
To care for younger children and other vulnerable family members is getting more and more problematic. Combining the weakening of traditional extended family networks and the fluctuating trends on the labour markets, result in the necessity for employees to try to “juggle” work with family responsibilities which often ends with conflicting priorities.
Work-family balance policies aim to support working parents in being productive individuals while ensuring the physical and emotional well-being of their children and other family members and parental leave, flexible working arrangements and high quality childcare services, are very important to ensuring work-family balance is.
In Home Economics, the family is seen as the constitutional, social unit of the household, society and economy. The functions of family are multifaceted. To fulfil their wide range of challenges family members must be empowered inside the family and from their social and political surroundings. To contribute to family, economics and society in a fulfilling and sustainable manner, a family member must be physically and emotionally well-balanced.
Studies in the field of Home Economics have included work-family balance since the first half of the preceding century and in a very early phase (from the 1950s to 1960s) Home Economists researched on the time use of housewives and later on the time use of dual-career women.
Home Economists started to support families through analyses of time use of family members and guidance in this area of everyday life.
In the 1970s to 1980s the focus was on inequality in time use between the husband and wife in the home from the viewpoint of gender equality. In addition, the paid work and unpaid work of men and women in connection with the UN gender statistics campaign and the time use of individuals of the husband and wife in the family, community and volunteer activities from the viewpoint of work-family balance was reviewed.
The International Federation for Home Economics (IFHE) strongly advocates that members: Support families to fulfil their tasks adequately and realise sustainable lifestyles through education and empowerment in Home Economics, i.e. time use, resource management, financial literacy and child care.
It also recognises the high pressure on families and the need to arrange family-life and work-life and set adequate frameworks to support the work-family balance as work flexibility, family leave for male and female workers and adequate child care opportunities, as well as the need to develop and include family focused policies in every area of society and economy for a sustainable use of the potentials and resources of every family member.
In his message, the UN Secretary-General, Mr Ban Ki-moon said this year’s International Day of Families highlights the need for work-family balance. The aim is to help workers everywhere provide for their families financially and emotionally, while also contributing to the socio-economic development of their societies.
He said current trends underscore the growing importance of work-family policies. These include greater participation by women in the labour market, and growing urbanization and mobility in search for jobs. As families become smaller and generations live apart, extended kin are less available to offer care, and employed parents face rising challenges.
Millions of people around the world lack decent working conditions and the social support to care for their families. Affordable quality childcare is rarely available in developing countries, where many parents are forced to leave their preschool children home alone.
Many young children are also left in the care of older siblings who, in turn, are pulled from school.
According to the UN Secretary-General, a number of countries offer generous leave provisions for mothers and fathers. Many more, however, extend few comprehensive benefits in line with international standards. Paternity leave provisions are still rare in the majority of developing countries.
Flexible working arrangements, including staggered working hours, compressed work schedules or telecommuting, are becoming more widely available – but there is much room for improvement everywhere. I am committed to this in our own organisation, where we are currently looking at our own arrangements, and seeing what we can do better.
“We need to respond to the ever-changing complexities of work and family life. I welcome the establishment of family-friendly workplaces through parental leave provisions, flexible working arrangements and better childcare” he said, adding that “Such policies and programmes are critical to enhancing the work-family balance. These actions can also lead to better working conditions, greater employee health and productivity, and a more concerted focus on gender equality.”
Work-family balance policies demonstrate both a government’s commitment to the well-being of families and the private sector’s commitment to social responsibility.
“On this International Day of Families, let us renew our pledge to promote work-family balance for the benefit of families and society at large” he said.