Accra, 15 May 2014 – Global Family Care (NGO), in collaboration with UNFPA and the United Nations Information Centre in Accra has held a dialogue in Accra to mark the International Day of Families 2014. The dialogue was an interactive and educative session under the theme “Families Matter for the Achievement of Development Goals”.
Stakeholders, including representatives from the public and private sectors and the youth discussed the local relevance of the theme and how challenges facing the family unit in the country can be addressed. Present were the Deputy Minister of Chieftaincy and Traditional Affair Hon. John Alexander Ackon, the Country Representative of UNFPA, Ms. Dennia Gayle, traditional leaders and members of the clergy.
Hon. Ackon expressed worry about the weakening state of the extended family system in the country which, according to him, is a result of neglect of family responsibilities by individuals. He noted that “some of us are failing the family system [extended family system] and those doing it well are getting tired” hence the weakening of the foundation on which the extended family system is built.
In his welcome address, the President and co-founder of Global Family Care, Mr. Ebenezer Gzabaku sighted the family as the most important basic unit and backbone of every society, adding that it is in the best interest of the nation to strengthen the family institution since that will help reduce the burden on the state to provide support.
Some participants were of the view that the rejection of the African traditional culture and religion is the root cause of the disintegration of the family system in our society. Others called on the government to provide support to single parents. For some, the introduction of institutions like orphanages and homes for the aged, arguably the result of broken extended family system, could further destroy family values and systems. Others called for the renaissance of the African traditional ways and systems and the quest for the African identity if the family system is to be revamped.
For her part, Ms. Gayle disclosed some staggering statistics and admonished policy makers to make available social and family policies work. For instance, she stated that since 1970 `the proportion of female headed households has been rising and one third of Ghana’s household is currently headed by females.
Participants were pleased to know that the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection will be releasing in July a draft Child and Family Welfare Policy which will address problems confronting families in taking care of their children, and will improve the situation of children.
In an effort to provide the opportunity for less fortunate families to interact with relatively well-to-do families, Global Family Care organised dinner for some 30 members of the community at Asanka Local, a local eatery in Accra. For Ericka, the eldest of six children of the Okai family, headed by their grandmother, the day was a good opportunity for them to share experiences with other families from different backgrounds and it feels good to be a part. “I thought that the UN only gathered nations, but now I understand that they also gather people like us. When we got the invitation it changed my perception of their work” she said.
When asked about what role the family has in terms of achieving development, Ericka proudly stated “Strong families can build strong nations, and development is not just about bringing together nations, it is also about bringing together families”.
Mr. Tetteh, a father of two, explained that no one should ever look down on people from other background, whether rich or poor. On the question why he and his family had come to Osu to celebrate the day, Mr. Tetteh answered “You might learn something. If you stay at home you hardly get to know anything”.
Chief of Akyem Odaw, in the Akyem Abuakwa traditional area, Nana Adu-Sei Amankwah Marfo III, called for family-oriented policies that encourage and support families to become strong, independent and sustainable.