Yes, it is today, our Big Day at COFACE. The United Nations General Assembly has proclaimed the 15th May each year to be celebrated as a day of families since 1993. This year, the topic for the day has been decided to be: “Ensuring Work Family Balance “.
What a wonderful coincidence… or probably the UN also recognises that the issue of trying to combine work obligations and family responsibilities is worth discussing and highlighting today, all over the world.
We are celebrating the day with an event in the European Parliament. This event is centred on the family dimension of disability. We have already posted a long blog entry about it. We are expecting many participants, and are confident, that our event will be a great success, not only for COFACE, but also to bring the family dimension to the European Parliament.
I wanted to highlight something else today, concerning the International Day of Families. And it is not what families can do, but what governments can do, to help families have a better balanced life. Europe seems to be plunging deeper into a worsening economic situation, and it is not much better elsewhere around the world. The word of the moment is Austerity. Governments all over the world are implementing Austerity measures, which mainly means cutting public spending from the most vulnerable, those who would need it the most, and reducing subsidies to services that are used by those who need it the most.
Warm meals in schools, kindergarten and crèche places, and visits from midwives, after-school activities, and care services to disabled or elderly family members are all suffering from the cuts to public spending. Public service provision is at risk of being privatised, or be left up to citizens and volunteers to fill the gap.
My wish for today, for the IDF 2012 would be for governments to start thinking longer-term. To get involved in the shaping of the future. And to understand that investment now in childcare, services to families and contributing to the wellbeing of families now will have returns tomorrow.
Together we can achieve wonderful things. This is what we pledge at COFACE, and very timely so with our campaign for the 2014 European Year. To make families’ lives better today and also tomorrow.