Director of the WFWPI UN Offices, Mrs. Carolyn Handschin’s presentation was “Family: The Place where Human Rights Values meet Peace and Human Development”. Clearly, the mere existence of Human Rights, or a universally agreed Declaration on them, will not automatically bring a culture rooted in the values and behavior described within. A built-in incentive towards empathy and “Human Responsibility” that overrides the need for an elaborate system of enforcement is necessary. Patriarchy hasn’t worked, nor matriarchy, but a new paradigm was proposed by Ms. Handschin: “Familiarchy” – a system in society in which the family unit is the nexus.
Parents, children and extended family members cooperate according to their interdependent roles to enhance each member’s value and contribute as a whole and as individual members to development of the larger community. This should expand naturally to an inclusive system of governance in which men and women share responsibility similar to the way that parents’ guide and nurture their children. Weakened families disrupt gender roles- as seen in the impact on children in cases of domestic violence and have sparked “trends” in the definition of family. It is important to maintain an awareness of the optimal norm/form for family while identifying causes of breakdown (prevention), similar to the way that the medical field handles sickness of the body. A healthy body is always the reference point.
Author: Mrs. Carolyn Handschin-Moser
Vice President, Women’s Federation for World Peace International (WFWPI)
Mrs. Handschin-Moser is overseeing the development of WFWP (www.wfwp.org) in Europe. Before becoming the Director of the UN Office for WFWPI, she led its advocacy team at the United Nations in Geneva for 19 years, focusing on peace and human rights through the empowerment of women and girls and protection of the family. Her concern for youth led her to found the WFWPI-UN Internship program in Geneva in 2005, where she is the Director. She has been the co-coordinator of the Middle East Women’s Conference Series for 12 years. Mrs. Handschin is also co-founder of the Geneva Interfaith Intercultural Alliance (www.giia.ch), a youth Model UN Interfaith Council Program. She has seven children, three granddaughters and a supportive husband who are a resource and inspiration for her work.