Spanish Family Forum

Since its inception Spanish Family Forum was legally constituted as an association of associations, and came into being as the result of an agreement between the principal Spanish family associations to set up a civil, non-confessional platform to voice and defend the interests of family associations in Spain and to have at the same time an international projection.

The Foundational Agreement of Spanish Family Forum was signed in Santiago de Compostela on 23 July 1999 and the association was legally constituted on 24 March 2000.

At the present time, the total number of associations and other bodies associated to the Forum represent over 4 million Spanish families.

“Family Forum” or simply “Forum” is the name usually employed when referring to Spanish Family Forum.

In the course of its 10 year history Family Forum has developed a number of operating characteristics which define it over and above its formal legal structure. The pro-marriage ILP (Popular Legislative Initiative) undertaken in 2005 was significant in shaping internal organization and operation because it brought about the creation of a volunteer helper network, the “special collaborators”, who have played an increasingly important role in the operational structure of the Forum.

Thus at this time, Forum is legally an association of associations and operationally a network of collaborators linked by Internet who may or may not belong to one of the member associations and who constitute the grass-roots and operational basis of the institution. This network is today made up of tens of thousands of people who give their time and their work to the Forum and who are coordinated by provincial and in some cases regional coordinators.

The head office of the organization is located in Madrid, where the Director General and his aides plan, coordinate, encourage and direct the network, under the supervision of a Managing Board appointed by the AGM of the member associations and the Management Committee of Forum. These two organisms are responsible for the governance of Forum.

Mission of Family Forum

The mission of Family Forum as stated in its founding charter is to defend and make present in Spanish society the interests of and the values represented by the family. To this end, it will:

a) Propose and communicate measures of family policy to political parties.

b) Defend marriage as an institution of essential societal importance, worthy of all respect and support.

c) Defend the right of parents to educate their children in freedom.

d) Defend human life as a value which is inseparable from the family.

In order to achieve these objectives, the management of Forum decides on the lines of action and their planning in terms of time. For example, in 2005 the objective was the ILP on marriage and the information campaign in respect of the new law of Education. These actions were followed by the ILP RedMadre (support network for pregnant women), and the campaign “Their life is your life” (against the new Law on Abortion); the most recent campaign is “Sexuality matters, without a shadow of doubt”.

Many of these campaigns were accompanied by signature subscription lists or mass demonstrations like those held in Madrid on 18 June 2005 (pro-family), 12 November 2005 against the law of Education and 17 October 2009 (pro-life).

How does Forum decide which areas it will commit its resources to?

The criteria used in this respect are as follows:

1. The area should be common to all or to a large number of the associations which belong to Forum

2. Forum may collaborate with a particular association in a given area at the request of the association, or because it is of general interest. In these cases, Forum in no way competes with or substitutes the associations in question.

3. Forum acts for societal improvement: its actions are strictly non-confessional and non-political.

The Board of Forum approves the campaigns proposed by the Management Committee. The Management Committee is responsible for their design and implementation.

Forum’s “way of doing things”, which has crystalized over the years, has the following characteristics:

1. Training people as an essential means of helping them to strengthen and defend their convictions in respect of the family. This is perhaps Forum’s most important contribution to the family association movement.

2. Forum is a group of people who are trained to speak knowledgeably and positively about the family. Forum is not a generator of activists.

3. The specific actions promoted by Forum which have a social and public echo, such as the signature subscription lists or large demonstrations, are only the means used to provoke debate and to appeal to the collective conscience.

4. Forum is particularly careful in its attention to the media, always trying to contribute arguments and data to debates within its sphere of activity which are the object of public opinion.

5. Forum pays special attention to the training of its network of colllaborators so that they have the tools to sustain their position in debate on issues regarding the family, freedom of education and the protection of the unborn.

Forum and other associations

Forum is not, and makes no claim to be the only organization which defends the values and interests of the family. However, it does aim to be a meeting point for all those who have the same aims. Forum respects and encourages all those who defend the family, freedom and life, whether or not they belong to the Association. On occasions, Forum promotes new entities to work independently in certain fields: examples of this are RedMadre (support network for pregnant women) or the Platform for Quality in Public Education.

Private members of Forum

Forum also has a network of private members who contribute economically to maintain the Association with monthly contributions. The Management Committee accords them the status of members, without prejudice to the legal status of Forum as an association of associations.

The contribution made by private members is essential to the upkeep of Forum’s activities.

Source: Foro de la Familia

About the author: AECC

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