A panel of dignitaries, during a live discussion on International Day of Families, highlighted the importance of empowering caregivers.
The conversation was conducted between an esteemed set of panelists including Her Excellency Katharina Wieser, Ambassador of Republic of Austria to India; Dr. V.P. Joy, Chief Secretary, Government of Kerala; Shri Avinash Lavania, District Collector, Government of Madhya Pradesh; Mr. Sumanta Kar, Secretary General, SOS Children’s Villages of India and SOS Mother, Sarla.
Addressing a panel discussion, streamed live on the official Facebook handle of SOS Children’s Villages of India, India’s largest self-implementing childcare NGO, on the topic “Empowering families for a better, brighter, and more resilient future – The Why? And The How?”, Dr. V.P. Joy, Chief Secretary, Government of Kerala highlighted that gender sensitisation and decentralisation are very critical to achieve family stability and ensure that families are cohesive.
He added, “We have faced a lot of trauma, as individuals and as a society, during these last two years of the pandemic. However, by collective action, we have been able to mitigate these challenges. In order to empower societies, we need collective action at the ground level, beginning with women empowerment. Women are the core of any family. We are acting towards strengthening the core, helping families lead a sustainable life and ensuring that every child is brought up in a happy, healthy and safe environment.”
Her Excellency Katharina Wieser, Ambassador of Republic of Austria to India, said “Traditionally, a family – or family-like structure -, is seen as an ideal environment for children to grow up in. Over the past decades, the reality of the so-called ‘core family’ of persons living in the same household has changed a bit; for example, it can also be a single mother working and caring for a child. To support families with children, over the decades Austria has developed one of the most generous systems of family support measures. But despite increased participation of fathers in childcare, it is still more mothers who stay at home to care for children. One of the biggest remaining challenges for the future is therefore to make progress on the possibility of combining family care and work life and achieving equality of opportunities. It is important to further empower women so they are able to pursue a professional career and also have a family. This is both often an economic necessity, as well as a question of gender equality.”
IAS Shri Avinash Lavania, District Collector, Government of Madhya Pradesh, commented, “We tend to see the pandemic and its aftereffects as negative, but I believe there are a lot of positive impacts of the pandemic as well. Changes in work models is one significant difference that can be seen today, especially the work-from-home model that seems to have done pretty well; the pandemic has just escalated the momentum of change that was supposed to happen a decade or so ago. Besides this, the need for skilling, upskilling and reskilling has gained tremendous impetus. Instead of mass educational training, it is important to encourage specialisation / skilling. Earlier, it used to take generations and decades to build an empire; now, with the help of technology, which is accessible to everyone, an individual can build a successful business during their lifetime, within a comparatively much lesser span of time.”
He further added, “Empowering the core of the family unit is essential; this core is the caregiver; hence, it is vital to ensure that the caregiver is strong and empowered, at every level.”
Mr. Sumanta Kar, Secretary General, SOS Children’s Villages of India, concluded that, “At SOS Children’s Villages of India, we strongly believe that family is the best place for children to grow up; hence, we work to empower a family unit: be it the SOS India family, Family of Origin, Kinship family or Foster family, in order to ensure that children, who have lost parental care or are at the risk of losing parental care are provided care, love, support and security.
It is essential for a child to have a long-term, positive relationship with an adult member of society, who can ensure that the child receives unconditional love, wholesome childcare and development. Also, post the pandemic, it has become even more clear that education and skilling are paramount for ensuring productive employability, self-reliance and empowerment.”
SOS Mother Sarla joined SOS Children’s Village Puducherry in the year 2005, right after the Tsunami. Mother Sarla talked about taking care of children, who had witnessed loss in great magnitude – the challenges and the approaches adopted. She has been mother to more than 15 children, and spoke about how adapting, and empathy go a long way in making a family unit strong. She also emphasised on how respect and understanding are based on reciprocity, besides the importance of discipline and studies. Many of her children have now completed their education and are leading a self-reliant life.
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