We need to focus on restoring family values in Mzansi
As the world celebrated the annual International Day of Families on May 15, as proclaimed by the UN General Assembly in 1993, the reflection was on the importance the international community attaches to the family.
The UN was determined to encourage better life standards and social progress of families across the globe.
However, many of the families, particularly in South Africa, are faced with challenges such as poverty, unemployment, HIV and Aids, substance abuse, absent fathers, gender-based violence, abuse within the families - especially against children and older persons - and the general moral decay in our communities, just to mention a few.
All these obstacles have a potential to impact negatively on the family, which is the fundamental feeder to society. Unstable families lead to a broken society, which is the current order of the day.
The wellbeing of the family is of critical importance to the overall functioning of society as any breakdown in functioning and its ability to provide care increases the vulnerability of its members. Families remain at the centre of social life, ensuring the wellbeing of their members, educating and socialising children as well as caring for young and old.
In 1994, the UN officially declared the International Day of Families in response to the modifying economic and social structures that affect the stability and structure of family units in several parts of the world.
The day serves as an occasion to embody the work that was started in 1993 and to commemorate the essence of people, societies, cultures and families across the globe.
It also heightens awareness of the issues affecting families worldwide.
Over the years, the day has also inspired several countries to create their own family days or awareness events that are based on community needs, to bring attention to the family.
Since 1996, the secretary-general of the UN has designated a theme for the celebration of International Day of Families each year.
The theme considers the challenges facing families globally during the year.
Most of the themes rotate around children, education, poverty, family balance and social issues for the betterment of families all over the world.
The theme for 2018 has been declared as "Families and inclusive societies".
The theme relates to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which was adopted by UN in 2015, and in particular to goal 16, which is the promotion of peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development.
It therefore requires all stakeholders involved, such as government, religious groups, street committees, burial societies, stokvels and all community formations to converge and safeguard families by advocating for unity and harmony within families.
Therefore, such programmes and interventions are required and should be promoted and monitored throughout the year.
By so doing this will reduce the scourge of lawlessness, substance abuse, as well as abuse of women and children.
Government alone, with similar programmes such as Marriage Week, also observed annually in September, and community dialogues, will not win the battle, but it requires societal buy-in where family values are brought back to strengthen family bonds.