Family poverty affects development

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the International Day of the Family. The day, which falls on May 15 every year, is an occasion to celebrate the role of families in development.

In 1994, the United Nations set aside May 15 for the celebration of the event in response to changing social and economic structures which affected the stability of family units in the world.

The occasion is also used to celebrate the important role of families, people, societies and cultures around the world.

The theme for the 20th anniversary is “Confronting family poverty, ensuring work and family balance and advancing social integration and intergenerational solidarity”. Family as social group

People do not exist in a vacuum. They live, play, go to school, and work with other people. The social group that seems to be most universal and pervasive in the way it shapes human behaviour is the family. 

For social workers, counsellors, and psychologists, the growing awareness of the crucial impact of families on their clients has led to the development of family systems theory, which is a philosophy that searches for the causes of behaviour, not in the individual alone, but in the interactions among the members of a group.  Family poverty

Confronting family poverty is crucial because it is one significant factor that changes the social and economic structures which affect the stability of family units and interaction, which is the hub of the system. Utilising the resources available through its structure (input), the family interacts to produce responses that fulfil its needs. It is the process of interaction among family members that determines the rules by which the family is governed. 

Family poverty has impacted on the extended family system, which was described as “weak”, by the Technical Advisor of the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection, Ms Dinah K. Adiko, at the recent second women’s leadership and policy dialogue series organised by the Ark Foundation in Accra. Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey

Similarly, at a consultative meeting organised by the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection, in Accra, which brought together religious leaders and faith-based organisations, to make an input into a National Child and Family Welfare Policy, which was in the offing, the Minister of Gender, Children and Social Protection, Nana Oye Lithur, said early and forced marriages were still prevalent in the society as the Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS) 2011 showed that six per cent of women marry before age 15 while 27 per cent marry before age 18.

The survey also showed that a total of 15,000 to 17,000 children between ages eight and 17 are working as head porters, and this could be attributed to family poverty, which results in other social problems such as delinquency and streetism, which in turn tend to deepen the breakdown of the extended family system.  Western culture

It is important for Ghanaians not to blindly copy Western culture, which is more concerned about the nuclear family, to the neglect of the extended one.

Although the nuclear family is important, it is also vital that at least one person who is in need in the extended family is catered for by the nuclear family, in order to help reduce the high incidence of  social vices among children in the society.

The government’s social intervention programmes aimed at improving the livelihoods of families and children in the country should be strengthened in order to provide social intervention services to the vulnerable ones in the society.

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