World Children’s Day, an occasion to highlight UAE’s commitment to children’s rights & safety
Her Excellency Dr. Khawla Al Mulla, Secretary-General of the Supreme Council for Family Affairs in Sharjah (SCFA), said on the occasion of World Children’s Day: “On this day, we celebrate the leadership of the UAE and its commitment to implementing child rights, as well as its distinguished record in the child care field locally, regionally, and globally, placing it at the forefront of world countries in providing decent life to children and maintaining their rights.
She pointed out that allocating a specific day for celebrating the Emirati child, which is observed on 15 March each year, reflects the great attention paid by the wise leadership for childhood and their relentless efforts to preserve children’s rights and their psychological, social, and educational needs.
Sharjah, a safe environment for children
Al Mulla added: “The Emirate of Sharjah has attached special importance to children’s rights and the provision of a safe environment to them, in accordance with the teachings of Islam and the Emirati customs and traditions, and the international conventions signed by the UAE since it was founded, thus reaching the highest levels according to the internationally recognized indicators.”
“The cultural and developmental vision of Sharjah is based on advancing the new generations from the children and adolescents, guided by the saying of His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Member of the UAE Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah ‘The child is the human being of the future and from him begins the industry’s most valuable capital’,
She went on to say: “Since the formation of the Union, Sharjah’s painstaking efforts to develop the institutions, initiatives, and programs aimed at integrating children in the development process and involving them in solving their own issues haven’t stopped, whether at the educational, health or creative level.”
Al Mulla concluded that the visions of His Highness, Ruler of Sharjah, and the directives of His Highness’s wife, Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher Bint Mohammed Al Qasimi, Wife of His Highness the Ruler of Sharjah and Chairperson of the Supreme Council for Family Affairs remain a catalyst for advancing children and making use of their energies an capabilities to become partners in building the leadership of the emirate and the state.
Sharjah Baby-Friendly Office
Dr. Hessa Khalfan Al Ghazal, Executive Director of Sharjah Baby-Friendly Office, shed light on the projects and initiatives carried out by the Office, including the Sharjah Child-Friendly City Project, which aims to encourage and promote the culture of breastfeeding in the emirate. The project has succeeded in increasing the rates of breastfeeding in the first six months of a child’s life in the Emirate of Sharjah from 18% in 2012 to 60% in 2019.
Sharjah has also been named the world’s first child-friendly city by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the World Health Organization, following the successful implementation of four community-based initiatives to promote breastfeeding that targeted health facilities, public places, nurseries, and workplaces. In the same context, Sharjah won the “CFCI Inspire Awards” award for the “Sharjah Child-Friendly” project, on the sidelines of the UNICEF’s first global Child-Friendly Cities Summit in 2019.
Dr. Hessa added: “The Sharjah Baby-Friendly Office has further expanded its scope of work to include children of all ages (0 – 18). In 2016, the Office launched the Sharjah Child & Adolescent Friendly Project, through which the emirate was able to join the UNICEF’s Child-Friendly Cities Initiative (CFCI), contributing to the promotion of children’s rights on a wider scale in the emirate. The project featured several initiatives, including childhood-friendly media, the child-friendly urban planning initiative, and child-friendly schools and nurseries.
Child Safety Department
Hanadi Saleh Al Yafei, Child Safety Department Director, said: “The department is committed to launching several initiatives to raise societal awareness about the child’s psychological and physical safety, including ‘Responsible Media… Safe Child’ Initiative and two surveys on the child cyber safety and the use of child car seats, in addition to the Department’s efforts in bullying awareness and prevention, where annual workshops are organized for administrators and educational supervisors in public and private schools, students, and parents, with a total number of about 53 workshops that targeted nearly 5,000 people.”
She added: “In 2019, the Child Safety Department launched ‘Cyber Safety Ambassadors’ initiative, the first of its kind initiative which is based on the peer education approach. 24 Out of 80 children and adolescents were chosen as ambassadors, where they underwent training on cyber safety and best practices online so that they, in turn, can train their peers on Internet safety.”
This is in addition to many other initiatives the SCFA is launching to ensure the care and development of the child and to provide an integrated environment based on safety and stability so that the child can effectively play his role in society.