Supporting mothers and families essential for Early Childhood Development and Peace

05.11.19

UN Geneva, Geneva Peace Week - MMM had the privilege to represent the Early Childhood Peace Consortium at an event organized by Arigatou International on "Rethinking Peace theory and practice: enhancing peacebuilding initiatives with the integration of early childhood development".

The panel event, which took place in the context of the Geneva Peace Week 2019, brought together diverse experts on Early Childhood Development:

  •    Aleksandra Jovic, ECD expert from UNICEF, presented the latest research on Early Childhood Development and how UNICEF integrates this Science into its programs; she also highlighted the high costs of inaction vs. the potential of high returns on investing in ECD
  •    Bernadette Daelmams, coordinator, Policy, Planning and Programs at the Maternal, newborn child and adolescent health department of the World Health Organisation presented the Nurturing Care Framework that WHO launched in 2018 to support ECD
  •    Maria Lucia Uribe, Director of  Arigatou International Geneva and convener of the International Consortium on nurturing values and spirituality for the prevention of violence in Early Childhood, brought the spiritual dimension into the discussion, highlighting the importance of how a child relates to himself and develops a sense of belonging.

Introducing the Early Childhood Peace Consortium (ECPC)

In her intervention, MMM Vice-President Valerie Bichelmeier presented the background to the ECPC, its mission and its different areas of work, and how MMM became involved in its work.

The Mother and Child Program (MOCEP) devised by ACEV, one of the ECPC’s founding partners, provided a concrete example of how empowering mothers with Child Development knowledge and parenting skills could change relationships within families and help reduce violence. MOCEP was implemented and evaluated in Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon, a very fragile context where violence is rampant.

Empowering families, parents and children for peace

The second part of the presentation focused on the importance of working with and supporting mothers and families – to empower parents and children as agents of peace.

“It is within the family unit that the values and beliefs that shape an individual are transmitted; that a child first experiences safety or distress, nurturing or violent relationships, as well as the joys and challenges of living with others; And it is also within the family that a child learns tolerance – or intolerance, as well as the peaceful – or violent – resolution of conflicts”,  Valerie Bichelmeier insisted.

The Science is clear that enabling children to grow up in healthy, violence-free and nurturing families is essential for them to reach their full potential and to find their role in society – which ultimately is the foundation for lasting peace.

Most parents want the best for their children, but the reality is that they face many challenges – especially mothers:

  •    Violence: both direct violence like domestic violence or violence in areas affected by war or conflict, and indirect violence like poverty, displacement, homelessness, etc. Violence clearly affects a mother’s ability to properly care for her children – and leads to a pattern of intergenerational transmission of violence.
  •    Time: mothers are increasingly present in the workforce and face the challenge of balancing paid work with their domestic and caring responsibilities – with the knowledge that globally, women still carry the bulk of unpaid family care work, including domestic tasks and the work of caring for children and other dependent family members.
  •    Mental health problems: according to WHO mental health problems, including depression and anxiety, affect 10 to 20% of mothers during pregnancy and the year after childbirth. This obviously impacts their ability to provide adequate nurturing and responsive care
  •    Isolation: families/mothers are increasingly isolated, often living far away from grandparents and the extended family that traditionally helped with raising children
  •    Single motherhood is a reality for an increasing number of mothers – and in the majority of cases, it is not a choice.

All these issues also need to be addressed as part of any policy that aims at supporting ECD. They show that ECD touches many sectors, including health, education, social affairs, labour, family affairs, women’s rights and gender equality. This means that the answer should also be multi-sectorial.

Mothers are key players and they must be recognised as such. They should be informed and educated on early childhood development, on positive parenting and nurturing relationships, and on the importance of providing responsive and loving care. And they should be supported in this challenging but essential job.

Let us be careful however not to put too much pressure on mothers with the many challenges they face already… we must recognise that women also have other roles to play in society: as citizens, professionals, politicians and community leaders.

It is also absolutely essential that fathers are involved – a quadruple win: for the mother, for the child, for the father himself, and ultimately, for society as a whole – and peace.

 

See also:

 

Most read articles

Seminar on the role of families in the circular economy – 14 May 2019 EESC Brussels

15.04.19

Make Mothers Matter is organising in partnership with the European Economic and Social Committee a seminar on “the Role of Families in achieving the Circular Economy” on the occasion of

Lire plus

Businesses must address the motherhood penalty and its root cause – the imbalance of unpaid care work

30.06.19

UN Geneva, Human Rights Council - In an oral Statement to the council, MMM also called businesses to promote a more equitable sharing of unpaid family care responsibilities and work

Lire plus

Mothers march with a pen

20.11.19

Our education campaign launches at the London School of Economics (LSE).

Lire plus
See all the articlesof the category

Latest News from MMM and its Network

When the World Changes

03.04.20

In just a few short weeks, our daily life as we know it has been turned upside down, changing everything.

Read more

A conversation with Passy Mubalama

18.03.20

UN New York - On the occasion of CSW64, the NGO Committee on the Status of Women New York sought nominations for its Women of Distinction Awards. Ms. Passy MUBALAMA, Founder and Executive Director of AIDPROFEN

Read more

Portrait of a (working) mother exhibition comes to Zurich

09.03.20

International Women's Day - After Geneva and other venues, the exhibition came to the ETH Zurich, Switzerland's most prestigious engineering university.

Read more

Unpaid care is work

08.03.20

International Women's Day - 'Time to Care’, the Oxfam report released earlier this year, put the spotlight on the link between global inequalities and an issue at the core of our work: unpaid care work. We sa

Read more

Mother’s health and socio-economic circumstances greatly impact child development

06.03.20

UN Geneva, Human Rights Council - MMM drew attention to the impact that a mother’s own mental health and socio-economic status, including her level of education, can have on her children's mental health and t

Read more

Single mothers disproportionately affected by lack of adequate housing

05.03.20

UN Geneva, Human Rights Council - MMM contributed to the discussion on the right to adequate housing by highlighting the economic hardships of single mothers, the difficulties and discriminations they face in a

Read more