Focus on Families

Families play an important role in creating and sustaining peaceful and inclusive societies, indispensable for sustainable and inclusive development. Children growing up in stable and supportive families develop positive cognitive, emotional and social characters, thus becoming stable and peaceful adults.
There are several important aspects of stable family environments that ensure children’s well-being and early socialisation, such as secure attachment and the process of the transmission and acquisition of values.
This year, International Day of Families focused on “Families and climate change”, aiming to “raise awareness of how climate change impacts families, and the role families can play in climate action”.
According to the UN, in 1994, it officially declared the International Day of Families in response to the changing economic and social structures that are affecting the stability and structure of family units in different parts of the world. International Day of Families basically celebrates the fact that families are the central part of any society.
In Guyana, and across the Caribbean, countries have been struggling to maintain law and order within their respective territories, while simultaneously causing a reduction in the increasing levels of crime and criminality in their societies, which pose the most serious threat to their forward movement and the notion of national security.
While these countries have all approached the subject matter differently, most of them have failed in addressing the root causes. This is not as a result of poor management or the lack of adequate resources, but can be directly attributed to a breakdown in traditional family structures within our societies; the changing socioeconomic, domestic, and regional environment; the shifting of gender roles; the emergence of new and complex gender identities; and the changing dynamics of a world now driven by newer forms of information and communication technologies.
While all of the abovementioned factors are important to any discussion on solving the proliferation of crime within our regional economies, many researchers and policy makers underestimate the role of males and boys in growth and sustenance of the Region’s crime problem. In fact, little or no effort is made to reform our boy children to ensure that they are able to contribute in more meaningful, progressive and productive ways to the societies in which they live.
The truth is that most Caribbean men and boys are being poorly socialised, and are many times not given enough attention during their early years of development at home, in school, and within the wider society from adults who still arguably have the ability to mould them into right-thinking, right-acting, and upstanding menfolk who are employable, educated, and civilised men within their communities.
At an early age, boys within developing countries are told they must be tough, and that the burden to provide for their families still falls on their shoulders, despite the shifting gender roles and the advances made in gender equality. They are socialised to hide their weaknesses and sensitivities, and to shun anything that even slightly appears feminine.
We must re-educate our boys, therefore, and change how they perceive the importance of an education, despite the economic hardships and feminisation of this tool by the societies in which they dwell.
In Guyana, there is need to view the issue of male underperformance and underachievement with a sense of urgency and dispatch. Failing which, we are going to continue to witness the spread of a deviant strand of hyper-masculinity sweeping across the education system. This reconstruction of masculinity is already manifesting itself in all our schools. Our boys are wearing their school pants well below their waist, and at times exposing their undergarments. Those boys who wear the uniform correctly are teased and referred to as “old”.
We echo the call made by Dr Ralph Gonsalves, on February 14, 2023 at the 2nd International Energy Conference and Expo in Georgetown, Guyana, when he called on regional leaders to focus on the importance of the unique family structure in today’s society.
As a society, we need to refocus on the role of families and family policies in achieving more inclusive societies from regional perspectives. It is heartening to know, as announced previously, that the Government has reaffirmed its commitment to invest in programmes and policies that would seek to empower families and create the conditions in which strong, cohesive families can flourish.