TBILISI, Georgia, 27 September, 2019. UNICEF continues partnership with religious leaders in Georgia on promoting child rights. Following discussions with the Georgian Orthodox Church representatives earlier this year, a three-day seminar was held for Muslim leaders on 23-25 September. Up to 30 Muslim Imams and theologists from the Adjara region participated in the seminar organized at the Administration of All Muslims of Georgia in partnership with UNICEF, in Batumi.
Such issues as general principles and provisions of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, role of religious leaders in promoting and protecting child rights, quality of education, stigma towards people with disabilities and social norms related to violence against children, mother and child health, protection of children from violence, the importance of families for children and juvenile justice were discussed at the meeting. UNICEF Representative and programme specialists made presentations about the above topics and initiated discussions to allow the participants to better understand the concepts and to receive information about the situation of children and existing policies and mechanisms.
“We are grateful to the Administration of All Muslims of Georgia for this partnership.”, says Dr. Ghassan Khalil, UNICEF Representative in Georgia. “The role of religious leaders is crucial in advancing and protecting children’s rights as they are close to their communities and understand their needs. We had very engaging discussions with Muslim leaders from Adjara region of Georgia and we look forward to further enhancing our partnership with different religious denominations in Georgia. We are happy to enhance our partnership in commemoration of 30th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child that is celebrated this year,” added Ghassan Khalil.
The seminar was informative for the representatives of the Administration of All Muslims of Georgia and the participants received a lot of useful information that helped them to reevaluate some attitudes and beliefs:
“I managed to break a stereotype that harsh parenting is good for children and I also learned that a child is not an object and property of parents and children have their rights. It was very interesting,” said Adam Shantadze, Deputy Mufti of All Muslims of Georgia.
“Thanks a lot for such an interesting seminar. I learned a lot. We need to explain to our congregations, to our neighbors that violence against children is not acceptable. I have already given the Convention on the Rights of the Child to my daughter-in-law and told her to raise her child based on this document. And we should never lie to a child. This is unacceptable”, said Ilia Bolkvadze, Imam.
“It is crucial that parents know how to protect children’s rights, how to raise their children using non-violent methods. It is important to talk to children, to explain things to them. I talked about child rights and things I learned at the seminar to my family. My family members listened carefully. We need to have such discussions more often”, said Beglar Kamashidze, Imam.
“It was a very good seminar. We need to talk to parents and to convey the information we learned at the seminar. Violence is not acceptable. We need to protect children and I will discuss these issues with my congregation”, said Ismail Zoidze, Imam.
“We need to disseminate this information to other people. Children have their rights. Children should trust their parents and receive support from them. We need to have more such discussions and thanks to UNICEF for organizing this seminar”, said Alexander Nakaidze, Imam.
In June, UNICEF organized a three-day seminar for the representatives of the Georgian Orthodox Church. Another seminar for church representatives is planned in October. A round table discussion will also be organized with the State Agency for Religious Issues uniting different religious denominations in Georgia, to ensure their support and commitment to promote and protect children’s rights.
UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.
For more information about UNICEF and its work for children, visit www.unicef.org.