Millennium Development Goals, Local Authorities and the Family:
The Perfect Combination!
Dear Members, Friends and Visitors,
Fifty six years ago, on December 10, 1948, the United Nations General Assembly, speaking to the World through the “Universal Declaration of Human Rights”, declared on its article 16 item III that “The Family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by the Society and State” (GA Resolution 217a (III)).
All over the world, the Family is recognized as the basic entity of society, carrying out essential functions and serving as source of stability, continuity and development. Being so different as alike in different cultures and being the cradle of the future generations, the functions of the Family are essential for the construction of a better world, just, safe and peaceful. Therefore the family strengths and weaknesses reflect the fabric of the larger society.
The Family, as the world's oldest human relationship and primary agent of social integration, preservation and transmission of values, has survived for thousand of years, constantly adapting to the changes of the socio-economic conditions and the progress of humanity.
In light of the new global challenges of the last decade and of the deep changes of the ongoing development, the society is reorganizing its “vision of the world”, the basic values, the economic, social and political structures and reformulating institutions. Consequently such changes are reflected in the family's dynamics.
The historical mark that defined those changes was the Millennium Summit, in September 2000, where world leaders representing 191 countries gathered in the United Nations Headquarters in New York and approved a landmark document called “The Millennium Declaration” and established commitments with eight clear goals and targets called “The Millennium Development Goals”, to promote the world’s economic and social sustainable development, to be reached by 2015.
Recognizing that the Millennium Development Goals will only be reached if Local Authorities, represented by the Local Public Power, and the Local Actors, represented by the Family, are also aware and compromised to exercise the day-by-day actions contained in the Millennium Document, we are determined to widely disseminate these goals and targets, and specially to promote a vibrant partnership between Local Authorities and the Family, since they are closely related to each other.
The Family, in all cultures, is the essential entity capable of reaching peace, safety, justice, unity and prosperity in the world, and has a fundamental function for the execution of the actions of the Millennium Development Goals.
While various forms of Family exist in different cultural, social, legal and political systems, the Family continues to be the basic unit of the society and, therefore, should receive comprehensive protection and support.
But it is also important to stress that the rights and duties to be exercised by all the Family members should occupy a prominent position in this learning and interaction process in the search for a better world.
In the first place, the respect of human rights, especially of women and girls, as well as the promotion of equal opportunity for all, should be the basis for all the other actions.
The public social policies should provide conditions to allow the Family to have means to carry out their functions so all members can accomplish theirs aspirations and contribute to the communities' development.
In all regions of the world, the current global economic and social changes are exercising a great pressure in the families’ lives. Despite of the 2,5% average increase of the world income, the number of families with income less than 1 dollar per capita a day grew in a dramatic way in the last decade. As a result the social gap between the rich and the poor is bigger, highlighting the emergency of a new poverty group.
The phenomenon of globalization as well as conflicts, political instability, persistent poverty, the increase of the differences of income inside a country and between different countries, deepened by the lack of employment opportunities in developing countries, reveals the urgent need for a global, national and local compromise towards the achievements of the Millennium Development Goals. And the Family can and must contribute.
The contribution of the Family in education should still be better explored in its whole potentiality. In some regions of the world, illiteracy continues to be a great problem, with most of illiterate adults being women and from the 115 million children without access to the school, most are girls.
The discrimination against women and girls begins inside the Family and the gender inequality persists as a visible problem in all cultures. Domestic violence still violates the women's human rights and threatens her personal safety, self-esteem and health. A great number of women and girls, especially among the poorest, have their economic and politic rights reduced, because they don't have access to education, health, employment or social security.
Inside the Family, a considerable number of problems threat women, girls and elderly. Every year, more than 500.000 women die because of pregnancy or its complications. The infant mortality reaches an average of 61‰ in the developing countries. Daily, more than 30.000 children die from evitable causes, such as dehydration, malnutrition and preventable diseases. The maternal and child mortality is one of the biggest disasters for the Family and the society as a whole, because it removes from the economy and from development lives whose causes of the death are perfectly avoidable.
Many families have no access to the basic reproductive health services and, therefore, have no way to exercise their reproductive rights. The quality of reproductive health services, especially family planning, is still precarious, leading to unwanted pregnancies and unsafe abortions.
The HIV/AIDS pandemic continues to prevail worldwide. The estimative is that 42 million people are infected with HIV. The over 13 million orphans whose parents died in consequence of AIDS impose severe challenge to the Family, communities, for the economy and for the future of whole societies. Due to deficient social policies and lack of universal access to scientific knowledge, HIV/AIDS-related discrimination and stigma still exist in many communities, jeopardizing prevention actions, treatment and control.
The 10-24 years old population reached the figure of 1,4 billion. Psychologically and physically, this group still depends on the assistance and support of the Family. On the other hand, low fertility rates and the increase of life expectancy leads the global population to aging. In 2050, the population with 60 years or more will have increased to 2 billion people. This will cause an increase of the seniors' dependence in the youths' labor force and will have a significant impact on the social security and health systems, increasing the already existing enormous pressure on the Family.
Environment sustainability remains worrying. Development actions without criteria and excessive consumption are leading to constant environment deterioration. Such actions are destroying ecological habitats and exhausting natural resources, threatening the long term renewal of basics natural supply for the human survival, weakening the structural pillars of the sustainable development.
The respect for cultural diversity is far from universal acceptance. The insufficient positive interaction among different cultures became one of the underlying causes of tensions and conflicts. The permanent dialogue among civilizations, cultures and religions certainly will strengthen the world peace, the sustainable development and the safety of the Family.
The formula for the success in achieving the Millennium Development Goals in the light of daily life is simple. It consists on the understanding that commitments and partnerships between Local Authorities and the Family bridges the construction of a strong local self-governing system that understands the problems and the desires of the community, and directly involves all partners in launching initiatives leading to sustainable development for all.
The Millennium Development Goals are too important to fail, and require a global partnership suitable for an interconnected world. The world truly shares a common fate. The practical solutions exist. The political framework is established. And for the first time, the cost is affordable. All that is needed is action. Together, we can make the Goals achievable and deliver a better life for the future generations.