A couple of weeks ago, COFACE Families Europe welcomed a new member from Lithuania – the National Assembly of Active Mothers (NAMS – www.nams.lt). NAMS was founded in December 2007 as a civic platform to give working families a voice in policymaking. In 2009 NAMS registered as an NGO and started fostering a more official dialogue with the Lithuanian government through participation in working groups. Today NAMS is one of the most active and important stakeholders representing the rights, issues and interests of Lithuanian families nationwide.
The objectives of NAMS are:
- Fostering an inclusive, safe and encouraging environment for motherhood, fatherhood and childhood
- Empowerment of the wider family network, for example grandparents
- Recognition and support for families caring for the elderly and disabled
- Promotion of gender equality within the institution of the family, the labour market and beyond
- Betterment of family oriented public services, economic and social policy
During the last decade NAMS has been active and often successful in fighting or deterring policy initiatives that would negatively affect families. Means have varied from collective complaints in court, public pressure in news media or provision of legislative amendments. This experience has demonstrated beyond any doubt that there is a need for independent and autonomous advocacies representing the family institution. As a result, the activities of NAMS include:
- Monitoring of all family related policy
- Advocating for family interests at national and regional level
- Making comprehensive analysis of the synergies between family income, support, benefits and tax relief
- Providing knowledge-based assistance for policy makers
- Encouraging a positive attitude towards employees raising children
- Identifying any inadequacies in availability and accessibility of family-related services
NAMS believes that a safe, healthy and prosperous family environment is fundamental to a welcoming, inclusive and cooperative society. Child poverty should be a thing of the past. Humanistic and positive parenting principles should be imperative, not optional. Both the elderly and the disabled as well as family members taking care of them deserve not only respect but also support and recognition.
If family is a community of related individuals, society is then a community of families. Fostering this community means understanding that empathy for the older generation ensures empathy in the new generation. Supporting parents means supporting future generations. Respecting children fosters respect for human beings and human rights in general.
The vision of NAMS is a society that accepts this understanding and welcomes the social and economic policy that successfully reflects it.