Learn more about our world on International Day of Families

A family in South Africa helped by UN

The UN has been working for years on the rights of women and the rights of women and children in families. This photo shows a family in South Africa that was part of a program supported by both UN and groups in the UK.

FRIDAY, MAY 15: Don’t expect parades or special holiday dishes for the United Nation’s International Day of Families, an annual observance that has its roots in UN programs during the 1980s and finally was proclaimed as a global event in 1993. More than 20 years later, the special Day of Families is an occasion for education and sharing the latest challenges faced in households around the world.

Because of the UN initiative, the Day of Families is highlighted in workshops, TV and radio programs, newspaper and magazine articles and in special UN-sponsored events. To shape the educational message, the UN issues annual themes. For 2015, the theme “gender equality,” highlighting specifically the plight of women and children in many male-dominated cultures around the world.

The most helpful resource provided by the UN this year is a free. downloadable, 5-page “Background Note,” designed to share global issues and spark discussion. You can read it online here, and then can save a copy in PDF format. It’s a great, short primer for use in your own local discussion groups.

Some of the data cited in the 5-page summary:

  • In 26 out of 143 countries, statutory inheritance laws differentiate between women and men.
  • In 27 countries, women cannot confer their nationality to their children and/or foreign spouses on equal basis with men.
  • Early, child and enforced marriage remains prevalent in South Asia and Sub Saharan Africa and to some extent in Latin American countries. Girls tend to marry older men and become mothers long before they are physically or emotionally ready.
  • More than 125 million girls and women have undergone some form of female genital mutilation in 29 countries in Africa and the Middle East in 2013 with 31 million girls at risk of being cut in the next decade.
  • Nearly half of all homicide victims are killed by their intimate partner or family members, a pattern that also includes practices like “honor killings” and other practices difficult to prosecute in some parts of the world.
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