Posted on February 14, 2020

Ways of tackling a lack of affordable and adequate housing for families has been placed in the spotlight at the United Nations, through Doha International Family Institute’s annual Doha Briefing.

“Social protection poli­cies play an important role in addressing family wellbeing, as well as tackling the lack of adequate and affordable housing structures,” said Dr. Sharifa Noaman Al Emadi, Executive Director of the Doha International Family Institute (DIFI), speaking at United Nations Headquarters.

“Such policies have the untapped potential to contribute to the achievement of develop­ment goals at a national, regional, and global level. We joined other countries though our Doha Briefing to discuss the challenges faced in addressing the assurance of, and access to, adequate and affordable housing and its impact on family wellbeing, and put forward endorsed measures to facilitate the access to affordable housing. “DIFI also aimed to identify the challenges facing parents during these changing times, including familial conflict and housing instability, and highlighting solutions towards family stability and cohesion, such as investing in parenting programs.”

The Qatar Foundation member’s briefing in New York was held at the 58th Session of the Commission for Social Development, titled ‘Affordable housing and social protection systems for all to address homelessness’, and focused on how access to housing and social protection systems are vital to nurturing strong and stable families.

Held in collaboration with the Permanent Mission of the State of Qatar, the briefing’s first session was held in collaboration with the United Nations (UN), the Division for Inclusive Social Development within the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA) and Qatar’s Ministry of Administrative Development, Labour and Social Affairs. Participants were welcomed by Her Excellency Ms. Alya Al-Thani, Permanent Representative of the State of Qatar to the UN, with the session being moderated by Renata Kaczmarska, Focal Point on the Family within the Social Inclusion and Participation Branch in UNDESA’s Division for Inclusive Social Development Department of Economic and Social Affairs.

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Speakers included His Excellency Ghanem Mubarak Al Kuwari, Assistant Undersecretary for Social Affairs, Ministry of Administrative Development, Labour and Social Affairs, Qatar, who gave a presentation on ‘The State's Role in Protecting Family Cohesion by Providing Housing Care: Regulations, Policies, Priority’. Dr. Susan Roylance, Director of International Policy, United Families, spoke about families and housing instability in the context of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, with DIFI researcher Ahmed Aref’s presentation focusing on the case for family-sensitive social protection.

The second session of the Doha Briefing was organized by DIFI in collaboration with the Permanent Mission of the State of Qatar to the UN, UNICEF and the International Federation for Family Development (IFFD) under the theme of ‘Families and Housing Instability: Investing in Parenting Programs’. It explored how housing instability can affect family cohesion and child wellbeing, highlighted the housing challenges facing parents, and advocated for policies and programs that can support parents in safeguarding their children.

After opening remarks from Dr. Al Emadi, the side event – moderated by Ignacio Socias, Director of Communications, IFFD – heard the perspectives of Dr. Froma Walsh, Co-Director and Co-Founder of the Chicago Center for Family Health, on family resilience and housing instability; and Chemba Raghavan, Early Childhood Development Specialist, UNICEF, as she discussed the need for family-friendly policies that reduce the impact of poverty on children. The session concluded with Dana Al Kahlout, Senior Program Specialist at DIFI, giving a presentation outlining the case for investing in parenting programs. 

DIFI is a global policy and advocacy institute working to advance knowledge on Arab families through research and promote evidence-based polices at a national, regional, and international level. The institute has special consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council.