On the 15th of May, we join the world in celebrating the 20th anniversary of the International Year of the Family.
On this day we stand in unity, in solidarity, with families. We share their challenges, their struggles and their successes. Each and every one of us must reflect on our roles and responsibilities within our own families. For government, civil society and our partners, it is a time to focus on the changing social and economic structures within our society that are impacting on our families. We take stock of recent trends and challenges. Most importantly, to ensure that we continue creating the conditions for families to perform their functions, and support them in the building of a stable, harmonious and prosperous society.
We realize that the composition and the dynamics of the Seychellois family have changed in the last 20 years. Today, the average family unit is made up of 3-4 individuals. Whilst we are all better off economically, there seems to be a weakening of many of our traditional family networks of support. On that point our society may be poorer. The situation is also characterized by more children being born out of wedlock, increasing cohabitation amongst couples, the issue of teenage pregnancy.
But what remains abundantly clear is that the family has a unique function to play in the continued success of our country. In the family we learn about goodness. Moral values are taught in the family. We nurture love, solidarity, and give protection. Our education starts in the family. It is in the family that our cultural and spiritual heritage is passed on.
Government’s input in the wellbeing of families is huge. Through the continued provision of affordable housing, quality education, accessible healthcare, employment opportunities and the existence of a comprehensive welfare system, we have not only placed our families at the centre of development but also provided the opportunity for every Seychellois to give something back to make our country better.
It is important to realise that government cannot replace the family as the focal point for the upbringing, care and support of its members. As individuals, we should invest more time in the family network. The experiences and values of our elders are priceless. The resilience and potency of our youth are assuring, whilst the promise and hope in the hearts of our children convey a future that is as bright as their smiles.
On this day I call on all families to choose to put our children first, and also keep a special place for our parents and elders in our lives. Choose the values that will ensure the stability, functionality and success of our families. Choose to be responsible and empowered family members. Take the right decisions that will be for our benefit and wellbeing of our society.
Government recognizes the invaluable work being done by the Church, other faith-based organisations and the NGO community to help build a more stable Seychellois society. The many activities and programmes focusing on marriage preparation, parenting and family life, are empowering our young people to face the many challenges of our times. Let this fruitful partnership between government and the civil society remain proactive in supporting the continued progress and growth of our families.
I wish all families in Seychelles happiness, as well as peace and prosperity within their households.