World Family Policy Center Forum
The Family and Development: Building on the Doha Declaration
The theme for this year's Forum, "The Family and Development: Building on the Doha Declaration," was chosen to focus on the concerns of developing nations. Each presentation in the academic panel was selected for its ability to contribute background/scholarship on the relationship between the health of a nation's social fabric (development) and the health of its families. At the end of this report you will see a list of the presenters and their academic affiliations as well as summaries of their papers. Also, two photos of the Forum in session are attached.
The World Family Policy Center hosted 85 delegates from 29 countries, including 17 UN missions and 14 representatives of national governments; some countries sent both. Eight UN missions sent full ambassadors, several from countries that had never attended before. Several other UN missions were represented for the first time.
From all reports, attendees enjoyed the Forum and found it illuminating and helpful to their work. Their active participation during the discussions was vital, often focusing scholars on the practical realities of their findings and theories.
The first day of the Forum revealed a degree of reservation and an assumed expectation of yet another politically sensitive conference promoting western solutions to problems in developing nations, a common scenario at the UN. Over the next two days, this feeling among delegates appeared to give way to the realization that they were among people deeply interested in strengthening disadvantaged families for the good of each nation state. In particular, presentations emphasizing the passing of values to successive generations seemed to move the mood of the group from caution and skepticism to openness and growing enthusiasm for frank discussion on how a nation can retain cultural and family values in the face of development and "globalization." On the third day several nations presented intervention papers, enlightening attendees on problems and solutions they encounter.
Here are some of the delegates' comments: "I have been personally inspired to become a strong proponent of the family at a personal and professional level. I will never be the same again." Others wrote: "Very enriching experience, should be broadened to include more state actors." "Made me more conscious and alert to all issues relating to family and let me know people care about family." "Unifying different players and constituencies." "A common understanding and agreement that the family is the core unit of society and should be nurtured, protected, and promoted." "Increased awareness of cross-cultural strategies for addressing challenges to the family structure." In a follow-up letter one delegate wrote:
But above all, I am grateful to you for providing me with an opportunity to enlighten myself with one of the richest discussions that I ever had the privilege of listening to on such a crucial issue of "family." The panelists, and yourself as well, have enriched me immensely in exploring the family issues from a new perspective, one that is based on morality and ethics.
This, I believe, would guide my future works, at national as well as global levels, on family issues, striving for a balance between moral and ethical values on one hand and socio-economic realities of my country on the other.
Several NGOs were represented at the Forum. Their attendance enhanced the quality of the forum and provided valuable interaction between them and UN delegates. It should be noted that several UN representatives expressed a desire to hear from NGOs in preparation for future UN meetings.
Attendees were treated to special dinners and entertainment each evening. One particularly enjoyable event took them on a tour through Provo Canyon to the lodge at Soldier Hollow, the site of the 2002 Winter Olympic's cross country ski event, where they savored spectacular mountain scenery and the beautiful Deer Creek Reservoir/lake. At the lodge they enjoyed a barbeque and the colorful dancing and inspiring singing of Brigham Young University's Living Legends with Latin American and Native American students performing music from their cultures.
Together, we shared ideas and formed new friendships and understandings; it was a wonderful, successful Forum.
Forum Presenters and Subjects:
Drs. Anatoly Antonov and Viktor Medkov, Professors of Sociology from Lomonosov Moscow State University, Moscow, Russia
- Presented data on the demographic winter" (population decline with attendant economic and social effects) being experienced in the countries of the former Soviet Union, where the new "western" cultural model places emphasis on fewer children. At
present rates, the Russian population may be reduced to 2/3 of its present size by 2050.
Dr. Hassan Musa Yousif, United Nations Focal Point for the Family, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
- Dr. Yousif encountered unexpected difficulties in obtaining a visa and was unable to join us for the Forum. His paper on perspectives on the relationships between family and development in Africa was presented by Eric Olson, from the UN Family Office in NewYork. The paper discussed the important interrelationships between the family and
economic development and how frequently they are overlooked.
Dr. Ya Fei Hou, Director and Professor of Sociology, Beijing Administrative College, Beijing, China
- Presented a explanation of China's "one-child policy," including the historical background, rationale, and effects on Chinese society.
Dr. Jini Roby, Professor of Social Work, BYU
- Presented data and information on child trafficking, its remarkable prevalence and resiliency, and family factors influencing it.
Dr. Maria Sophia Aguirre, Professor of Economics, Catholic University of America, Washington, D.C.
- Presented economic evidence for the family as a strong enabling factor in sustainable development.
Farooq Hassan, Barrister, Lahore, Pakistan
- Presented a discussion of needed reforms in the family laws of Muslim countries and the allowable range of such reforms under the law of the Shari'a.
Dr. Steven O. Afolami, Professor of Agriculture, Maiduguri University, Maiduguri, Nigeria
- Discussed the role of the family in stabilizing society and facilitating human development, using an analogy to biological systems.
Dr. Rajalakshmi Sriram, Associate Professor of Human Development and Family Studies, University of Baroda, Baroda, India
- Discussed current family life context, challenges and traditions in India and influence of modernization in the multiple traditional Indian cultures.
Dr. Regina Eya, Professor of Psychology, Enugu State University,
- Discussed the influence of NGOs that bring "modern" western ideas into African cultures, often doing far more harm than good. She focused on an "education program" accepted by her country which turned out to be primarily sex education unacceptable to parents, once they learned of it.
Darius Tshiey, Attorney at Law, Founder, Association Congolaise Pour la Famille, (Congolese Association for the Family), Kinshasa, Congo
- Discussed the boundary between "private life" and "public life" and the unavoidable effect of one's private life on the management of public affairs, and hence, the importance of personal ethics.
Richard Wilkins, Director, Doha International Institute for Family Studies and
Development, Doha, Qatar (on leave from J. Reuben Clark Law School, BYU)
- Gave an overview and update of the new Doha International Institute for Family Studies and Development, described its purposes and function, and described the need for such centers.
Dr. Lengwe Mwansa, Professor of Social Work, University of Botswana, Gaborone, Botswana (visiting at the Council on Social Work Education, Alexandria, Virginia)
- Discussed the need for an holistic approach to family, including men, rather than focusing on just women or just children, in efforts to provide assistance.
Margaret Roche, Director - Institute of Humanities, Education and Development Studies, Strathmore University, Nairobi, Kenya
- Discussed the necessary relationship between the family and the school in proper child development.
Dr. Kathleen Bahr, Professor of Marriage, Family, and Human Development (retired), BYU
- Described and contrasted the effectiveness of means of transmitting values between generations, comparing Navajo, Apache, and Anglo cultures.
Dr. Laetitia van Haren, Cultural Anthropologist, CERES Institute, Versonnex, France
- Described the influence of modernization and globalization on parents' ability to teach and transmit values to children in remote cultures in Laos and the Philippines.
Dr. Allen Christensen, Director of the Benson Agriculture and Food Institute,
Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah
- Discussed the goals of the institute in overcoming hunger and malnutrition by helping people in developing countries learn how to produce sufficient quantities of high quality food through improved agricultural techniques, allowing them to be self-sufficient and self-sustaining.
Dr. Warner Woodworth, Professor of Organizational Behavior and Social
Entrepreneurship, Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah
- Discussed the need to help people in developing nations become self-reliant with the opportunity to develop their own micro business using micro credit. Discussed how NGOs have participated in micro-entrepreneurial consulting, along with medical and dental excursions, new home construction, and rural health care, and utilizing various tactics for accomplishing village development.
Dr. Jason Fairbourne, Professor of Organizational Behavior, Center for
Self-Reliance, Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah, and Kirk Magelby, local
- Discussed the opportunities to assist in the development of developing nations by providing opportunities in "micro-franchising," the opening of small branches of pragmatic, needed businesses, such as micro-bakeries, and providing the necessary equipment for realistic costs, as well as training and follow-up.
Wendy W. Sheffield, MSW, LCSW, author of the Stay Alive program Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah
- Discussed the concepts of a highly successful AIDS prevention program that is centered on developing consequential thinking skills, reason for abstinence, the value of family support, individual empowerment, and the engendering of hope.