May 15 is celebrated as the International Day of the Family. This day highlights the importance of families. It aims at fostering equality, bringing about a fuller sharing of domestic responsibilities and employment opportunities. The programmes undertaken to commemorate the day, work towards supporting families in the discharge of their functions. They tend to promote the inherent strengths of families, including their great capacity of self-reliance, and stimulate self-sustaining activities.
Family constitutes the basic unit of society. Hence, the widest possible protection and assistance should be accorded to families so that they fully assume their responsibilities within the community to the provisions of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Declaration on Social Progress and Developments and the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against women.
What is a family?
According to Murdock, an anthropologist, a family is “a group characterized by common residence, economic cooperation and reproduction. It includes adults of both sexes, at least two of whom maintain a socially approved sexual relationship, and one or more of their children of their own or adopted by the sexually cohabiting adults.”
The Family as a Functional Unit
The biological, emotional and economic needs are the foundation of a family. It grows out of biological needs, particularly those of the expectant mother and the infant child, who cannot support and live by themselves.
Every association of people; it be a state, a nation, or a tribe — has its own distinctive culture, its modes of living and thought, which are developed as a response to the peculiar circumstances of the environment, natural and ideological. Family is the agency through which the impressionable rising generation is made familiar with such traditions. It teaches the individual what situations to anticipate, how to behave and what behaviour to expect, by giving one the gifts of language and dress which integrate within one’s cultural ethos. It facilitates adjustment to people and groups outside the family circle.
Family plays an important role in transmission of the cultural traditions from one generation to another. It acts as an educative unit and a socio-cultural agency. The importance of this aspect lies in the fact that children all over the world get their earliest instruction in the family beginning with language.