On February 9th, 2016, DIFI organized a panel discussion on “Work-Family Balance, Social Development, and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development: Implementation of Culturally Specific Policies” during the 54th Session of the Commission for Social Development (CsocD54). The priority theme of this year’s 54th session of the Commission for Social Development was “Rethinking and Strengthening Social Development in the Contemporary World”. This theme strongly advocates a rethinking of some of the social policies, especially the ones that haven’t been successfully implemented, according to specific country contexts, obliging the international community to think innovatively and devise new policies.
In September of 2015, member states adopted a new global development agenda, Transforming our World: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, to succeed the Millennium Development Goals. The 2030 agenda emphasizes that global development requires a more integrated worldwide vision that aligns social, economic and environmental goals, and that is grounded in sustainability, equity and inclusion. The agenda also stresses on the importance of devising policies that are appropriate to national contexts, in order to achieve sustainability. The central goals of the 2030 agenda hover around ending poverty, promoting shared economic prosperity, social development and people’s well-being, while also protecting the environment.
However, although the 2030 agenda is people-centered and promises to improve the livelihood of all individuals, it does not highlight the importance of empowering the family unit to achieve the sustainable development goals. The family is only specified in relation to family planning, to highlight assistance to family farmers and to promote shared responsibility within the household. However, it is in this arena that the relationship between work and family balance and supportive policies comes into play. In many societies around the globe, social policies to support work-family balance, have not kept pace with the changes in labor markets and families. In the absence of adequate policies, the current trends in workplaces and in families often lead to considerable conflicts and stress for workers and their families. Target 5.4 in the 2030 Agenda states that one important goal of the new directives is the recognition and “value [of] unpaid care and domestic work through the provision of public services, infrastructure and social protection policies and the promotion of shared responsibility within the household and the family as nationally appropriate.” The panel discussion thus provided an opportunity to engage in a substantive dialogue on policy options to further implement Goal 5 of the internationally agreed sustainable development goals contained in the 2030 agenda.
Ms. Noor Al Malki Al-Jehani, the Executive Director of DIFI; introduced the topic through presenting on “Re-thinking Work and Family Policies Within the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development Goals”, Dr. Bahira Sherif Trask, Professor & Chair Human Development & Family Studies at the University of Delaware then discussed “Work-Family Balance, Social Development, and the United Nations 2030 Agenda: The Recognition, Need, and Implementation of Culturally Specific Policies”, Ms. Renata Kaczmarkska, the UN Focal Point on the Family at the Division for Social Policy and Development, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, focused her presentation on “Socio-economic Policies Recognizing the Value of Unpaid Work”, and Mr. Ignacio Socias, Director of International Relations at the International Federation for Family Development (IFFD) finally discussed “The Role of Fathers and Employers in the Implementation of Effective Work-Family Balance Policies”. Ms. Lara Hussein, the Director of Family Policy at DIFI moderated the panel discussion.