Tribune News Network
The impact of socio-economic and demographic transformation in Africa and its effect on family well-being were topics of discussion at an event organised by the Doha International Family Institute (DIFI) in preparation for the 30th anniversary of the International Year of the Family in 2024 (IYF+30).
The three-day Expert Group Meeting (EGM), held in Pretoria, South Africa, in partnership with the University of Pretoria, the United Nations (UN) Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) and the International Federation for Family Development (IFFD) under the theme ‘Demographic Changes and Family Wellbeing in Africa’, saw experts’ discussions around the impact of demographic changes on family wellbeing in Africa.
They also addressed the major family formation trends in Africa and how these changes affected family wellbeing, the role of technology in these changes and its impact on digital parenting, the challenges and opportunities presented by social protection policy frameworks towards supporting elderly care in the region, the interlinkages between demographic trends, migration and urbanisation in contemporary Africa, and the major lessons learned in developing and implementing national and regional family policies.
Dr Sharifa Noaman Al Emadi, executive director of DIFI, highlighted the importance of focusing on family wellbeing through a comprehensive approach, which DIFI, a member of Qatar Foundation, is tackling through policy-research and mobilisation.
She emphasised the importance of focusing on family wellbeing with holistic approaches, stressing that DIFI works to enhance family wellbeing and supports the making and development of policies related to research, scientific evidence and multiple advocacy efforts.
She also noted that demographic changes, accompanied by the shrinkage of traditional interactions between nuclear and extended families because of urbanisation and the fragility of related policies, as well as declining fertility rates and other demographic challenges, mean structural treatments and policy and programme support is required based on knowledge basis.
Speaking about the preparations for the IYF+30, Renata Kaczmarska, Focal Point of the Family at the Division for Inclusive Social Development (DISD) of the UN DESA, highlighted the importance of EGM recommendations to enrich the periodic UN Secretary General’s report on the family.
Ignacio Socias, director of Communication and International Relations at IFFD, outlined the importance of international programmes that support national development agendas “including the voice of parents and families in the discussion for better and holistic policy design, implementation and evaluation is extremely important.”
Professor Zitha Mokomane, professor at the Department of Sociology at the University of Pretoria, stressed that “while the important role of the family in society has been recognised everywhere in the world, it also needs to be substantiated through comprehensive family policies.”
Representative of the African Union Commission on Social Affairs Lefhoko Kesamang pointed out the need to develop Management Information Systems on the African Family for better data collection on family interventions at the regional level.