NAM and South Africa: its initiative to work together to build ‘Functional Families’

The 15th of May was proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly as International Day of Families and directed that it must be commemorated every year by member states. In the view of celebrating this day South African President Jacob Zuma earlier this month said, Families in South Africa face several challenges such as the impact of poverty and unemployment, drugs and substance abuse, crime, domestic violence and violence against women and children. We understand the impact of these challenges and will continue working with our communities to eradicate these scourges so that families and households can lead secure and comfortable lives.

South Africa as a nation has been troubled since a long time and family life in this very troubled nation has been more fragmented than one could comprehend or describe. Several issues ranging from its history of apartheid, unemployment, violent crimes, poverty, and the increasing HIV/AIDS pandemic has profoundly affected the proper nurturing of a healthy and well-structured families.

Families are the basic unit of every community and society and in order to build strong and functional families NAM in collaboration with the South African government, The Department of Social Development (SA), The African Union (AU) and United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), have convened several meetings and summits under the theme: “Building stronger families to promote healthy family life and fight poverty” to not only offer an international perspective but also initiate the process wherein they brain-stormed to help the issue from escalating.

The meetings saw the coming together of various social experts and practitioners which included research and high learning institutions from all over, traditional leaders, several government representatives, faith based organisations and non-governmental organisations amongst others to discuss and unearth solutions to the scathing issue.

The cabinet together approved the White Paper on Families which provided for a policy framework on how South African families were to be supported in order for them to flourish and function at their best. The White Paper is an initiative that defines the term family as a societal group that is related by blood, adoption, foster care or the ties of marriage, civil union or cohabitation, and further goes beyond any particular physical residence. It mainly aims to mainstream family issues into government policy making, so as to foster positive family well being and overall socio-economic development in the country. The implementation of the White Paper on Families has been taking place across the three spheres of government in order to provide support to the families to build their families with all essential needs of education, health care, housing etc.

The initiative views the family as a key development and aims to strengthen it with three key objectives. Firstly it endeavours to enhance the socialising, supporting, caring and nurturing capabilities of the families in the nation for them to effectively contribute to the overall development of themselves and also the nation at large. Secondly, the White Paper initiative aims to empower the families and their members enabling them to identify, discuss, consult around maximizing their economy, labour market and grab other opportunities available within the nation.

Finally, the policy aims to develop the competence of the families and their members to establish social interactions which will enable them to contribute towards a sense of community, social solidity and national unity and harmony.

Further the group in collaboration have conducted comparative analysis of the best practice models from different stake holders in order to uncover the best possible ways to address the challenges facing these families as well as to strengthen coordinate response for better results for the families. The nation hopes to see a change with increased access to and utilisation of social services through direct intervention by building effective service delivery partnerships between government, communities and other role players.

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