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Story | Research
23 February 2021

Family is the cornerstone of human and economic development, DIFI conference hears


Panel focuses on the socio-economic challenges linked to marriage around the world

Social and economic trends connected with marriage, and how financial and social considerations can affect the stability of a family and married life, have been spotlighted at a global conference organized by Qatar Foundation member Doha International Family Institute.

In the UK, marriage rates have seen an increase since the beginning of the pandemic about a year ago, as the high costs of marriage previously led to many young people putting off wedding plans

Baroness Emma Nicholson

Speakers in a session titled Marriage and Socioeconomic Challenges discussed experiences from different parts of the world, and highlighted the importance of the family's role in advancing human and economic development.

DIFI’s conference featured a session focusing on marriage and socioeconomic challenges.

The discussion at Doha International Family Institute’s (DIFI) conference – moderated by Dr. Amal Al-Malki, Founding Dean of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences at Qatar Foundation member Hamad Bin Khalifa University – saw Baroness Emma Nicholson of Winterbourne, a member of the UK’s House of Lords, give her perspectives of current British marriage trends, particularly against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic and its repercussions for various aspects of economic and social life.

“In the UK, marriage rates have seen an increase since the beginning of the pandemic about a year ago, as the high costs of marriage previously led to many young people putting off wedding plans that were extremely expensive,” she said.

“The restrictions imposed on the size of wedding parties and invitees have encouraged young couples to take the decision to marry during this period. This confirms there is a correlation between marriage and socioeconomic aspects."

Baroness Nicholson also explained how the pandemic has had "dire effects" on working women in the UK, leading to them needing work from home in addition to taking care of their families and home-schooling their children all together, and placed a huge burden on women that exceeded their capacity to cope. “Although some fathers in the UK have been willing to help with tasks related to their children and their remote learning, many other fathers have not, which has placed all the responsibility on the mother,” she said.

All concerned parties need to join together and unify efforts to address the challenges related to marriage and find ways to address them

Dina Douay

Dina Douay, Director of the Women, Family and Childhood Directorate, League of Arab States, Jordan, spoke about ways of restoring the confidence of young people in the institution of marriage, given the challenges they currently face. She emphasized that today’s youth see marriage and forming a family in a very different way to how these were perceived in the past, strengthening the importance of discussing the issue of marriage now in the context of socioeconomic factors such as poverty, social inequality, and the high costs of marriage.

"All concerned parties need to join together and unify efforts to address the challenges related to marriage and find ways to address them, come up with solutions, and develop programs that support youth who are planning for marriage as well as supporting family stability against the challenges it might face,” she said.

Speaking about actions taken by the League of Arab States in support of marriage-related policies and programs Douay said: “The Secretariat General of the Arab League is making strenuous efforts to support young people who are planning for marriage and families, through the official mechanism designated for this purpose and through technical committees.

It is not possible to talk about human development without a having stable family

Bouchra Tawfiq

“These include the Arab Childhood Committee, the Arab Family Committee, and the Arab Women's Committee, which meets periodically to discuss issues related to Arab families, and submits its recommendations to the Council of Arab Ministers for Social Affairs as well as to Arab foreign ministers when necessary, providing the necessary funding for activities that support youth, marriage and family.

During the session, Bouchra Tawfiq, Director of the National Institute of Social Action in Morocco, spoke about the rapid changes that her country has seen in its demographics and its social structure, reflected through demographic, economic and value indicators, and how these are primarily related to marriage and the change of trends linked to it.

Speakers looked at how social and financial considerations affect marriage and the family unit.

"The General Declaration of Human Rights stipulated that family is the cornerstone of society and has the right to be protected by both the society and the state,” she said. “This reflects the importance of the family in the development system of all basic societies.

“The United Nations Framework for Sustainable Development also stressed the importance of the family, given that investing in family development is part of investing in community development. And it is not possible to talk about human development without a having stable family

The DIFI conference continues until February 25. For more information and to register, visit

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