World Family Summit 2020/2021 – Virtual High Level Session

Under the High Patronage of H.E. Kais Saied – President of Republic of Tunisia

Date: May 15th 2021

Time: 4.00 – 5.00pm – Tunis Time (GMT+1)

In Partnership with:  Government of Republic of Tunisia

                                          Ministry of Women, Family and Elderly of Tunisia

                                          World Family Organization

                                          Organisation Tunisienne pour l’Education et la Famille

                                          United Nations Institute for Training and Research – UNITAR

                                          Arab Family Organization

                                          National Office for Family and Population

Theme: “Fostering global solidarity and family-sensitive responses to the COVID‑19 pandemic, its socio-economic and digital gaps impacts on the Family”. 

The summit will be held by webinar at:

Background to the High Level Session

Since 1994, the World Family Organization organize its most important annual event, the WORLD FAMILY SUMMITS, gathering governments at national, subnational and local levels, ngo’s, academia, parliamentarians groups, media and families to discuss sustainable solutions to the world’s biggest challenges, as alleviate poverty, promote economic growth and decent work, reducing inequalities in an environment of peace and security, leaving no family behind.

The World Family Summit 2020 was planned to be held on May 13 – 15, in Tunis – Tunisia,  under the High Patronage of H.E. Kais Saied, the President of Republic of Tunisia, with a very ambitious agenda to call for a Decade of Action mobilizing everyone, everywhere to create an unstoppable force linked to the Global Goals, to demand urgency and ambition, supercharge ideas and to shine a light on solutions that expand access and demonstrate the possibilities of ideas to ensure No Family is Left Behind.

We were so hopeful…

But the COVID-19 pandemic arrived as a multifaceted global crisis, changing our everyday life and plans, bringing significant loss of life and livelihoods, pushing families back into extreme poverty and threatening the advances the world has been making on implementing the Agenda 2030 and the Sustainable Development Goals.

As it was a time for many changes, our World Family Summit 2020 had also to embrace the time being “new normal” and the usual format of the World Family Summit 2020 was transferred to May 2021.

Unfortunately, May 2021 arrived and the Coronavirus Global Crises still is around the globe not allowing presencial meetings and conferences. Nevertheless attending the many requests of members and other international and national organizations and to preserve the yearly continuity of the Summits, we are organizing  the World Family Summit 2020/2021 Virtual High Level Session focusing the COVID-19 Pandemic and its impact on the Family.

Concept Note

The ongoing COVID-19 crisis is enormously impacting on families. Women, children, old persons and persons with disabilities who are already experiencing disproportionate poverty, the COVID-19 has exacerbated pre-existing inequalities faced by this vulnerable groups . These include disparities in stigma and discrimination, access to health-care services, social protection and the risk of violence and abandonment, especially of those living in long-term care and institutionalized settings.

The COVID-19 pandemic has also exacerbated existing economic, health and societal pressures, driving families to fragility and conflict.

Recalling that right now, worldwide more than 158 million people have been infected by the COVID-19 and around 3.3 million have died, the COVID-19 pandemic has triggered widespread consequences, including massive job losses, the sharpest decline in per capita income since 1870 and an expected 150 million people being pushed into extreme poverty.  As the pandemic’s impact is falling disproportionately on the most vulnerable, development gains could be set back years and even decades, taking the world further from achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.

But we cannot afford to lose ground in the struggle to attain the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030. Its our duty to advocate and promote protection to the most vulnerable families, ensuring that emergency social and economic schemes integrate a gender perspective, the promotion and protection of children’s rights, strengthening national health and social protection systems to ensure the flow of vital medical supplies, food and agricultural products and other goods and services across borders.

This is a moment of reckoning. Now is the time to build back better, to step up our ambition and translate the global goals into national and local actions in order to create the future we want. Let’s be ready to embrace change. Let us change for the better and make our recovery based upon values, not value, and on compassion, courage, and cooperation.

For WFO, Resilience and Recovery from COVID-19 building back better toward an inclusive, accessible and sustainable post COVID-19 world are closely linked issues. Crisis like this pandemic has the power to disintegrate families and generate social chaos. We also believe that a much greater proportion of international support should be devoted to the strengthening of the family Unit.  Family resilience is essential to achieving the SDGs.

WFO considers its duty to accelerate the implementation of the 2030 UN Agenda preserving the Family powerful force: Leaving No Family Behind.

Themes for Discussion:

  1. Beating the COVID-19 Pandemic social and economic impacts on the Family.

Acknowledging that the family – the basic unit of society – is a powerful agent for sustainable social, economic, environment and cultural development, including peace and security, bearing the primary responsibility for the care, development and protection of children and the elderly, as well as instilling values of citizenship and belonging in the society, this 2021 Celebrations of the International Family Day provide us an opportunity to draw further attention to the increasing cooperation at all levels on family issues and for undertaking concerted actions to strengthen family-centered policies and programs as part of an integrated comprehensive approach to development.

Until a few weeks back, not many of us had heard phrases connected to our health and survival like “the apex”, “flattening the curve”, or “ stay home” to save lives. But these are unprecedented times. The world is facing one of the gravest health challenges in modern times bringing families the opportunity to test bonds and kindness towards its members in solidarity and compassion.

The global economic downturn caused by the COVID-19 pandemic is shaping up to be the worst since the tragically consequential Great Depression. Although similar in terms of their impact, especially on employment and income, key differences make the current crisis particularly dangerous. As it carves its dark entry into the history of humankind, causing serious illness and death, upending daily life of families, challenging national health systems, shutters businesses large and small and confines millions to their homes, it also leaves the society’s most vulnerable groups exposed to its most destructive effects.

A global pandemic is a time of tough choices. The economic and social policy decisions taken now will shape the fate of millions families and define the future of all nations. Many questions have to be answered to allow for right choices: How to save people’s lives without destroying their livelihoods? Where to allocate scarce resources? How to protect those who do not have the means to protect themselves?

In the above mentioned context, the World Family Summit 2020/2021 Virtual High Level Session focusing the COVID-19 Pandemic and its impact on the Family will seek to further our understanding on how to address the social and economic impact on the family and the role that social protection schemes can play in face of the complex drivers and challenges of the coronavirus pandemic on the social fabric and on the wider family that is human society.

  • COVID-19, Digital Gaps and SDGs: What Challenges for the Families?

At a time when the international community was moving forward on the importance of SDGs, the Covid-19 pandemic struck and imposed a new perspective. Educational, the digital gap, the deterioration of economic and social standards and violations of basic rights worsened. This “new normal” in which families were thrown into caught many off guard, helpless and unprepared. The psychological, social and economic distress was felt by many around the globe and as the countries struggled to deal with the situation. The majority of political and financial priorities were focused elsewhere.

In view of the health issues that has become an utmost priority, families purchasing power has dwindled, poverty has prevailed, education has gone down, and entrepreneurship has suffered a fall. As civil society is assumed to be there to contribute in mitigating deficiencies and the degradation of cultural values and incomes, a mobilization is required in these times of health, social, economic and environmental crisis. It is now at the crossroads of development sustainability on the one hand, and of combating the harms of the Corona virus.

The challenge facing civil society consists in contributing, in parallel with governments, in reorienting efforts towards SDGs while trying to overcome this “new reality” which highlights further involvement in digital interactions in a situation where the digital gap between and inside communities themselves. These are the issues around which are focused the themes of the United Nations, of the Tunisian Ministry of Women, Family and the Elderly, that is –respectively- “Family and new technologies” and “Family, digital technology and sustainable development”.

In the framework of the UN Family Day and the activities of the World Family Organization, with the next World Family Summit in scope, scheduled in Tunis, the webinar proposed by OTEF –as member of the executive bureau of WFO and its representative in North Africa and in partnership with the Arab Family Organization,  the Tunisian Ministry of Women, Family and the Elderly, and the Tunisian National Family and Population Office (ONFP), the meeting reflects a common concern to promote intra- and international institutional synergies for mutual insight likely to allow hope for a “Zero-Covid” sustainable world. The webinar consists in senior-level executives, namely the leaders of the institutions involved in the topic and the event, experts’ presentations and / or interventions of partner institutions’ participants.

The participants to the webinar are high-level officers of partner organizations who are appointed by their respective hierarchies.