Author: Ruth Shanks AM, ACWW World President

We see every day the need for stronger communities, and the open, honest, and brave discussion between
those who may disagree, and families play a crucial role in this. Children raised in fear bring fear to others.
Peace, unity and friendship comes from those who are nutured and supported by their family – be it the
parents, or carers, grandparents, siblings and others who can guide and encourage our young people to
walk a path through life with open eyes and hearts. Never before has the connection between children
and grandparents been so strong. In many regions of the world we see grandparents stepping in to care
for younger generations when parents are forced to work long hours, or cannot afford child care; in other
countries there are whole communities who have been decimated by illness such as HIV/AIDS and other
communicable diseases, leaving grandparents to raise their children’s children.

We must support all families – from demanding universal access to good quality education for children,
to sensible childcare options and sustainable support for parents, to life-long learning, and ensuring
quality of living for grandparents and older generations. Work-family balance must be encouraged and
supported, assisting parents in their educational and caregiving roles – the private sector must play a part
in this, and responsible employment practice will benefit all stakeholders.

ACWW connects and supports women and communities worldwide, and our project funding has had
significant impacts on communities around the world. Our 1000th project was funded in 2015, providing
IT skills to young and older women in India; this enables and empowers both ends of the age spectrum in
their daily living, and is a signficant step towards sustainability of education and training in the local area.
The latest round of completed projects funded by ACWW included 5 Health Education projects, 4 focused
on education and capacity building, 2 agricultural training and development projects and 1 nutrition
and home economics project. These projects, along with 7 water and sanitation projects and 4 income
generation schemes, benefited 142,375 people, of whom 91,187 were women and 15,295 were children.
ACWW is committed to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, and recognises that families
have a specific role in ensuring the achievement of SDG4, which secures inclusive and equitable quality
education and promotes lifelong learning opportunities for all.

With many countries suffering from internal conflict, and much of the world becoming more divided,
nationalistic and isolationist, the role of the family in encouraging cultural and cross-community
engagement and collaboration is crucial. We call on all governments and global bodies to work towards
securing safe, fair and reasonable living conditions for families – particularly urgent for those living in
refugee and internally-displaced person camps. War has a huge and unmitigated impact on families in
so many ways, and we further call on those governments around the world leading wars of aggression
to consider the realities they impose not only on the families of those they target, but also those in their
own countries. Peace, communication, and a collective move towards global sustainability can only be
achieved with the support of the family, but are also necessary for the existence of the family and thus all
of our futures.