The impact of the economic crisis on families

Families are being hard hit by the crisis through rising unemployment, falling purchasing power, increasing debt, poverty and social exclusion. Families are indeed victims of the crisis, but they are also among the essential acting stakeholders towards necessary changes.

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The current economic crisis is already having long term implications on the well-being of families in the European Union. Due to the additional impact of austerity measures, millions of families are challenged in ways that will cause major negative effects to their lives, of their ageing relatives and of their children, and indeed, the future of Europe’s younger generations is at stake. Unfortunately, poverty and social exclusion of families will continue to rise. All Member States are concerned, but some are harder hit than others.

It is clearly visible that the effects of the longstanding economic crisis and budgetary cuts are especially felt by families with low income. The most vulnerable families such as single-parent families, large families, families with young children and/or dependent relatives and migrant families are most likely to meet difficulties in the fulfilment of their role as educators and carers.

The support of targeted economic growth together with a fairer redistribution of wealth, accompanying specific measures aiming the most vulnerable, are complementary measures that will see all families and especially the most vulnerable through the crisis.

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The fairytale story of family diversity

Families have always taken innumerable shapes and sizes in our society. And while we have all grown up knowing different types of family, unfortunately, not all are treated equally.

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A few years ago I was moderator in a conference called The fairytale story of family diversity organised by the Spanish association UNAF. That conference looked at the multiple family models that are now a fact of life: single parent families, recomposed families, lgbt families, transnational families,… among others.

Family diversity is an undeniable reality today but is also evident throughout the history of humanity and even through fairytale’s stories. The fairy tales are often featured by non-traditional families as for example: Pinocchio, Little Red Riding Hood (belonging to single-parent families) or Cinderella and Snow White, whose families were recomposed… in reality there are many examples!

Today, transitions between family models during a person’s life are more and more frequent, reflecting entrenched gender inequalities in the family and greater freedom of self-determination.

One of the conclusions reached by the meeting was that while “reasonable” equality for families has been achieved in justice and education, inequalities remain and may even be getting worse in extreme cases since the onset of the crisis, which effectively “fosters family diversity”.

Traditional, single parent, recomposed, adoptive, lgtb, transnational… what makes a family is not the set-up but the warmth and quality of its members’ relations. ❤︎

Feel free to leave a comment or say hello on Twitter @ananaesana