These express the diversity of individual preferences and societal conditions. Consequently, the International Year of the Family (IYF) encompasses and addresses the needs of all families.
In United Nations instruments, the family is referred to as the basic unit of society; it is appreciated for the important socio- economic functions that it performs. In spite of the many changes in society that have altered its role and functions, it continues to provide the natural framework for the emotional, financial and material support essential to the growth and development of its members, particularly infants and children and for the care of other dependents, including the elderly, disabled and infirm. In the broader sense, it can, and does, educate, train, motivate and support its individual members, thereby investing in their future growth and acting as vital resources for development.
The family remains a vital means of preserving and transmitting cultural values: however, efforts to preserve the best of the past may be seen also as perpetuating attitudes that have, at times, worked to the detriment of society and some family members, notably women. In the context of social change, families must also become the medium for promoting new values and behaviour consistent with the rights of individual family members, as established by various United Nations Instruments.
Nevertheless, changes in social structure, in part a result of economic modernization and the ensuring pressures of development, have in many societies changed the nature of what is considered a family. With economic development and the spread of new forms of economic activity, family-based subsistence labour is, to a large extent, being replaced by work for wages, specialization of labour and concentration of activities in a workplace which is removed from the home. Improvements in communication, transportation and access to information have allowed individuals increased contact with ideas and behavioral norms beyond their traditional spheres. Formal education has also introduced many new concepts. Greater number of people, in both urban and rural areas, are becoming more aware of opportunities for different lifestyles and are also more likely to make individual decisions without the approval of extended family members. Although not universal, there has been a general trend towards reduced family size and increased emphasis on the \"nuclear family\".
The objectives of the International year of the Family are to stimulate local, national and international actions as part of sustained long-term efforts to:
a) Increase awareness of family issues among Governments as well as in the private sector. IYF would serve to highlight the importance of families; increase a better understanding of their functions and problems; promote knowledge of the economic, social and demographic processes affecting families and their members; and focus attention upon the rights and responsibilities of all family members;
b) Strengthen national institutions to formulate, implement and monitor policies in respect of families.
c) Stimulate efforts to respond to problems affecting, and affected by the situation of families.
d) Enhance the effectiveness of local, regional and national efforts to carry out specific programmes concerning families by generating new activities and strengthening existing ones;
e) Improve the collaboration among national and international non-governmental organizations in support of multi-sectoral activities; and
f) Build upon the results of international activities concerning women, children, youth, the aged and the disabled, as well as other major events of concern to family or its individual members.
To commemorate the occasion Pakistan Post is issuing a stamp of Rs. 7/- denomination on May 15,1994.