Ignacio Socias currently works as the Director International Relations at the International Federation for Family Development(IFFD). IFFD is a non-governmental, independent, and non-profit federation, whose primary mission is to support families through training. It is an umbrella organization representing families worldwide at the United Nation.
Ignacio related that IFFD has been given a status enjoyed by only 3% of organizations working in the United Nations. Their financial and professional stability as an organization, coupled with the fact that the family was of common interest to member states of the UN, earned them this top status.
Ignacio gave three factors that led to him launching such a daunting undertaking. Firstly, having been diagnosed with terminal cancer, he later healed. He then decided to start a new professional life. Secondly, at the time, there was no organization in the UN advocating for families in the world. It then made it convenient and more so necessary to begin such an organization. Thirdly, the situation of the family in the world necessitated his founding of the IFFD.
After 50 years of experimental work, the IFFD has been able to collect sufficient data to be able to ascertain what policies work for the family, and which ones do not. 50 years since the beginning of the Sexual Revolution May 1968, adverse effects on the family and hence the society are all too clear. For example the global fertility rate that in the 1960s stood at 5.0 as at 2015 stood at a modicum 2.4, the effect of which has seen the First World’s fertility levels fall below replacement level, that is below 2.0 fertility rate. Southern Asia would stand at 2.8, while Africa led at a 4.9 fertility rate. Nonetheless, Ignacio pointed out, Africa was fast approaching below replacement levels, with fertility rates decreasing each year.
Ignacio related that the effect of this is a larger ageing population with few young to take care of them. In the United Kingdom for example 9 million people above age 65 live alone. China being the most populous in the world this number would probably be a hundred million; aged people living alone in the rural areas, their few children having left for the cities. Ignacio noted that all need care,affection and company. The family performs these roles, it therefore follows that to solve this problem the family then needs to be supported and strengthened.
Ignacio then proceeded to give the duties of the State to the family.
1.The State needs to:Respect the choices of families
2.Support the choices of families when they need to be supported.
The State needs to support the family, since the family’s private actions resulted in not just private effects but also public effects. For example if a couple devoted time and energy in raising upright children, society would benefit from having upright individuals. If the family is well-taken care of everything falls into place, Ignacio so crowned it.
IFFD then undertakes to advise member states of the United Nations on what policies help make resilient families, it advocates for the family that works. IFFD does not impose its views on UN member states, it gives them the situation of the family, and from the vast amount of data it has collected over 50 years, it advises on what family works. Sometimes in a chuckle, Ignacio repeatedly said that their greatest ally is reality.
“This is not an ideological problem, it’s a real problem.” IFFD would tell governments.
IFFD is not as such a pro-family organization as such, the attitude it takes is that we are all pro-family.
“Were IFFD a pro-family organization it would seem impartial. It would seem that there was another organization in the UN that was anti-family. The attitude we have is that we are all pro-family. In my life I have not met someone inside or outside the UN who says ‘No, no, no. I’m against families’. The so-called pro-life organizations keep their reach within like-minded people. But that way you can’t do a lot to help families. I’m often asked ‘then what kind of family are you for?’. I have always replied that I’m for the family that works.”
Ignacio also pointed out that IFFD does not accept money in order to change their advice or their agenda, as a result they have a good reputation.
When asked what the biggest fear for IFFD was, Ignacio replied that they feared ignorance, a lack of education that then makes people easily manipulable. Thus the need of everyone being educated.
When asked what their biggest achievement was, Ignacio immediately said it was the small reactions families give upon undergoing the training programs. In a year IFFD reaches 100,000 families. “Imagine what impact 100,000 families can give if they want to.” Ignacio would add that China’s abandonment of its one-child policy was partly due to their advocacy. The IFFD is also proud to have worked with the Kenyan government resulting in the new family law.
Ignacio’s advice to the young was that they learn from the First World the effects of the Sexual Revolution. That they also, now addressing African youth specifically, strive to fight corruption, which is a big problem in African countries. Also, knowing that they too will get old and will need care and company, they should care for the old in society and try as much as possible to learn from them. He said that unlike the young, the old are not easily manipulable, that for a society to move on well it must learn from the old. This is inter-generational solidarity.
The IFFD offers training programs for the youth advising them on what to do with their lives. A program on advocacy is also offered. Those interested may reach Ignacio at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information on what the IFFD is doing visit www.familyperspective.org.