the vice presidency for Women & Family Affairs Isalmic Republic Of Iran

Masoumeh Ebtekar's Address at the 2018 International Women and Justice Summit held in Turkey

Saturday 24 November 2018 - 18:08

In the Name of Allah, the Compassionate, the Merciful

I would like to thank the Government of Turkey and KADEM for convening this important event in Istanbul. The topic of Family Empowerment is a central theme for enabling societies to flourish and advance and for the promotion of justice and peace at the global level.

Humanity is facing rapid developments and changes in science, technology, governance and society. While technology has evident benefits for, health, education, improvement of life quality, economic advancement and many other areas, technology also has its pitfalls and could turn wrong if not properly employed or adequately understood. Violence, war and terror have plagued many nations and prospects for prosperity and happiness in today's world are dim whether for those who are tormented with violence or those whose conscience cannot remain indifferent to the atrocities and crimes, committed occasionally in the name of peace.  The family, which has, since the beginning of creation, served as the  cornerstone of human development carries the important role of providing a milieu for the peace of mind and heart of humans. A prosperous family can provide an enabling environment for the upbringing of healthy, responsible, knowledgeable and hopeful citizens. 

Contemporary societies face many challenges including those aimed at undermining the integrity of the family. The family is the essential haven for life, the milieu for human, moral and intellectual development. Family prosperity is an important indicator for social advancement and even economic growth. Women, men, children and the elderly all benefit from a healthy and balanced family relationship. The family is meant to provide support and nurture for its members to ensure their spiritual, mental and physical wellbeing. The healthy and prosperous family can function to provide these invaluable services , however contemporary lifestyles challenge the integrity of the family. Poverty, unemployment, war, and migration, are external pressures on the institution of the family.  Drug abuse, depression, violence, illiteracy and ignorance are some internal pressures. The empowerment of the family requires supportive legislation, equitable marital law, particularly for women at childbearing age. Economic empowerment and employment is also necessary for individual members of the family, while family businesses are also on the rise. Rapid social transformations and the digital revolution have created new opportunities but also challenges for the institution of the family.

These conditions have led to certain disorders in family relationships the most prominent of which is the communicative disorder. Family members are disconnected due to long work hours sometimes for both parents leaving practically little time for interaction. The digital revolution has had many merits for enhanced information exchange, education, training , marketing and networking, but it has also led to a disconnection in face to face and human relationships among family members. Some studies have indicated that families communicated for a medium of two hours a decade ago but now these families talk only for about 20 minutes.

Studies indicate that this communicative disorder is marked by a listening disorder, misunderstandings are common, family members feel they cannot express their feelings or views, children and elders feel discriminated or isolated, use of cell phones and social media is preferred to face to face/real life personal or social encounters. Depression, isolation and verbal or physical abuse and violence may arise as a result, aggravating the situation. UNESCO / WHO has defined 10 life skills most of which are related to communicative skills . Life skills enable effective communication for example being able to discern between hearing and listening and ensuring that messages are transmitted accurately to avoid miscommunication and misinterpretations.

In Iran, the advent of the Islamic Revolution has resulted in pro family policy and supportive legislation during several decades. Welfare measures that ensure a better work family life balance are also in place. In addition, cultural and educational policies have focused on highlighting the importance of the family. We have specific laws for support for the family and an important bill is being finalized on preventing violence against women.

Since 2017, the Vice Presidency for Women and Family Affairs of Islamic Republic of Iran has embarked on a nationwide campaign to address communicative disorders within the family. A conceptual model has been developed to introduce the 'National Family Dialogue' which, has been launched nationwide through high level advocacy dialogue sessions. Academia, NGOs, community based organizations are all invited to take part in awareness raising, advocacy, workshops, brainstorming sessions. Networking to enhance awareness and engage a wider audience is encouraged.

 Trainers and facilitators are trained to enhance communicative skills among family members. A particular emphasis is laid upon an intergenerational dialogue with the youth. The Iranian Sociology Association along with relevant NGOs and academic groups are partners with the Vice Presidency to address this scheme. Women's groups, NGOS and academia have welcomed this initiative and a strategy will be developed for each province commensurate with local opportunities and challenges.

A conceptual and practical model has also been developed for the "Intergenerational Dialogue", where youth have designed debate sessions for older generations to engage in constructive dialogue.

The general understanding is that this issue is the common denominator for family challenges not only in Iran but at the global level. Irrespective of ethnic or racial background or economic or social status the communicative disorder, seems to be a universal ailment of growing dimensions. On the basis of this experience, Iran will establish an International Center of Excellence on Family Dialogue .

Enhancing communicative skills in families, promoting intergenerational dialogue based on respect for young and elder members, will enhance understanding and social cohesion and inclusiveness at all levels.

Violence, terror, insecurity and unilateral coercive measures like sanctions are tormenting many nations. Nations need to enhance their social and economic resilience to be able to overcome these challenges and advance. Seeking resilience, humanitarian assistance, peace and dialogue at the global level we must begin within the family, and within the self. Inner peace is the key to peace in the family , peace and solidarity in society, peace with nature and other humans.

 The Holy Quran has made this clear :

'And of His signs is that He created for you from yourselves mates that you may find tranquillity in them; and He placed between you affection and mercy. Indeed in that are signs for a people who give thought.' 21 Rum



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