UNICEF Report on Families, Family Policies and the Sustainable Development Goals


This synthesis study, the culmination of work of 6 family policy experts from different parts of the globe, has underlined the value of working for families, and with families, to meet the SDGs. Poverty, health, education, gender and end violence interventions are broadly evidenced across many countries and regions, and effective strategies for family interventions are shown. Less is known about the role of youth employment. This is likely to be the result of a lack of quality data, rather than there being ‘no role for the family’. Established active labour market policies, family allowances, and unemployment schemes commonly include family increments and conditions, and in so doing, implicitly accept the role of the family as part of these efforts.

Beyond of the role of family policies for specific goals, one clear conclusion of this work is that family policy interventions and strong families are a foundation for meeting multiple goals, even when single policies are being used for single purposes.

Well-designed family poverty interventions have positive spill-overs into education and health– decisions made about children’s school or preschool attendance, for instance, will be made by parents or heads of households, and affordability will influence to some degree. Equally, family policies, when poorly designed, can impact the outcomes in other goals areas, to the detriment of their own ambitions. The example from gender-specific parental leave polices, which result in inequitable employment effects, are most stark.

Overall, the accumulated evidence is that strong families function as supportive units, providing important resources to all members. These resources include: time; money; physical resources; interpersonal care; and emotional security. Policies should seek to facilitate increased effectiveness of present social interventions, and reduce dependencies wherever possible.

Families are an elementary social unit. Hence the progress of families will inevitably influence the progress of the communities and societies of which they are part. In this sense, families are enabling agents for achieving the SDGs This is the reason why, while governments and other actors in society seek to meet these goals, the role of strong families and strong family policies cannot be overlooked.”

Read the full report with specific recommentations per SDGs here: Families_and_SDGs_Synthesis_Report