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February 18, 2019

DIFI Concludes Participation at United Nations Gathering

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The Doha International Family Institute (DIFI), a member of Qatar Foundation (QF), has concluded its participation at the 57th Session of the Commission for Social Development in New York.

The institute hosted a panel titled ‘Towards Family-Sensitive Protection,’ in collaboration with the Mission of the State of Qatar to the UN, Division for Inclusive Social Development Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN DESA), the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for West Asia (UN ESCWA), Berkeley Social Welfare, and the International Council of Social Welfare.

The event aimed to provide stakeholders – including governments, civil society organizations, and UN entities – with a platform to discuss and enable a better understanding of the challenges faced by families and the progress made in addressing them , as well as to exchange experiences and lessons learned from new evidence and innovations in efforts targeted at families.

Speaking at the event, Dr. Sharifa Al-Emadi, Executive Director, DIFI, said: “Research has shown that social protection programs can strengthen the capacity of families to care for their children, and remove barriers to access services, while reaching those that are most vulnerable. “Increasing evidence also shows that social protection measures have led to increased family spending on education and health, which helps families to cope with the burden of care for ill family members; improves the health and wellbeing of families; decreases childhood mortality; reduces school absenteeism; and reduces child labor.

"Families deserve to be the focus of policymaking due to the critical contributions they make to society. However, most social protection measures tend to benefit individuals by increasing individual security and freedom. Social protection measures designed to support family formation, choice, interdependence, and cohesiveness in family life remain less implemented".

Attendees included Her Excellency Sheikha Alya Ahmed bin Saif Al Thani, Permanent Representative of the State of Qatar to the UN; Ms. Renata Kaczmarska, Focal Point on the Family, UN DESA; Mr. Neil Gilbert, Milton and Gertrude Chernin Professor of Social Welfare and Social Services, University of California, Berkeley, US; and Ms. Gisela Nauk Chief, Inclusive Social Development Section, UN ESCWA. The session was moderated by Dr. Anis Ben Brik, Family Policy Director, DIFI.

Ms. Kaczmarska said: “For its part, social protection is indispensable for achieving several UN Sustainable Development Goals. Family policy should take into account the place of social protection in the overall social development framework.

“Family policy design requires that targeting criteria, and levels of cash transfers or level of services provided, be determined on the basis of the full understanding of the competing family needs, levels of vulnerability and inequality, public budget issues, and social and community factors that can moderate the effects of such interventions.”

“The side-event ‘Towards Family Sensitive Social Protection’ raises awareness of the importance of family-focused social protection in overall social policy and its role in the achievement of several Sustainable Development Goals, including poverty eradication.”

DIFI is a global policy and advocacy institute working to advance knowledge on Arab families through research and promote evidence-based polices at a national, regional, and international level. The institute has special consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council.