The “The Gulf Countries’ Policy Dialogues on Child Wellbeing” Dialogue Brings Together Officials and Experts to Promote Child Protection

With Representatives from the Countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC)

13 September 2023
Banner
SCMC

Abu Dhabi, 7 September 2023 - The Dialogue  “Gulf Countries’ Policy Dialogues on Child Wellbeing: Stronger and Inclusive Child Protection Systems in the Gulf” concluded, with the participation and presence of several officials, children and representatives from the United Arab Emirates, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the Kingdom of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman and Qatar, at the headquarters of the Supreme Council for Motherhood and Childhood in Abu Dhabi.

The event, organized by the Supreme Council for Motherhood and Childhood in cooperation with the General Secretariat of the Gulf Cooperation Council, the Abu Dhabi Early Childhood Authority and UNICEF, aims to draw attention to the importance of child protection systems and to mobilize action towards the strengthening of social workforces and coordination mechanisms. Participants in the Dialogue pledged their commitment to invest in child protection models and work on preparing roadmaps for strengthening social workforces and overall coordination on child protection.   His Highness Sheikh Saif bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior, said in a recorded speech: First of all...I am pleased to welcome all the different teams and entities concerned with child protection in the GCC countries and to express my pride in your tremendous efforts in protecting this precious group that represents the bright future of the region.

His Highness added that the UAE, with the vision of its wise leadership, strives to become the safest country in the world in all fields, and it is proactive in providing the highest levels of protection for children in the real and virtual worlds by strengthening its global partnerships and providing support to all international organizations working in child protection.

His Highness expressed his pride in the initiatives led by the (Mother of the Nation), Her Highness Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak, Chairwoman of the General Women's Union, President of the Supreme Council for Motherhood and Childhood, and Supreme Chairwoman of the Family Development Foundation, who always seeks to provide efforts for the protection for families, women and children.

His Highness added, “Under the directives of Her Highness Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak, I announce to you that the Emirati Children's Day for the year 2024 will be titled ‘The Child's Right to Protection’, as child protection is a national priority.” 

At the end of his speech, His Highness expressed his appreciation to the Supreme Council for Motherhood and Childhood for organizing the Dialogue in cooperation with the General Secretariat of the Gulf Cooperation Council, the Abu Dhabi Early Childhood Authority, and UNICEF and expressed his hopes for its continuation.

The Dialogue was attended by His Excellency Dr. Mugheer Khamis Al Khaili, Head of the Community Development Department, Her Excellency Ambassador Dr. Haifa Abu Ghazaleh, Assistant Secretary-General and Head of the Social Affairs Sector of the League of Arab States, Her Excellency Noura Al Suwaidi, Director of the General Women's Union, and a number of officials in the country and the GCC countries.

In her opening speech, Her Excellency Rym Abdullah Al Falasi, Secretary-General of the Supreme Council for Motherhood and Childhood, welcomed the guests of the UAE and conveyed the greetings of Her Highness Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak.

Al Falasi stressed that this meeting, the result of exceptional cooperation between the General Secretariat of the Gulf Cooperation Council, UNICEF, and the Abu Dhabi Early Childhood Authority, is not only held to shed light on childhood issues and protect children, but to build bridges of understanding and cooperation to refine policies and procedures and create an environment that guarantees the wellbeing and future of our children.

The Secretary-General of the Supreme Council for Motherhood and Childhood added that the UAE is considered one of the leading countries in the commitment to children's rights and working to protect and promote them. These efforts are an embodiment of the UAE's firm commitment to achieving sustainable development and ensuring the provision of a sustainable and healthy environment for future generations.

She further explained that as part of the efforts undertaken by the UAE to protect children's rights, a series of updated laws and legislation aimed at achieving the highest levels of protection for children were issued. These laws cover a comprehensive and diverse range of areas, such as healthcare, education, and the rights of children of determination.  In addition to national strategies, plans and initiatives, these laws also aim to ensure the provision of an appropriate environment for the healthy and sustainable development of children.

Al Falasi also stressed that providing appropriate health and educational care for children is one of the most important priorities for the UAE, which works to provide high-quality health services for children from birth to early childhood. It also seeks to provide quality educational opportunities for children and encourages sustainability in the field of education. In addition, the UAE works to combat all forms of exploitation and violence against children by developing and strengthening domestic laws and cooperating with international organizations. Moreover, the UAE seeks to ensure a safe and protected environment for all children, which enhances their rights and enables them to grow and develop properly and sustainably.

Al Falasi added that achieving child well-being and protection requires sustainable cooperation between governments and regional and international organizations, as these partnerships are the foundation for achieving a real impact in the lives of our children, and that child protection requires sustainable strategic visions and effective laws that guarantee their rights to protection, care and comprehensive development, noting that this Dialogue is an expression of the shared commitment to build sustainable societies that provide the best conditions for child development and growth.

Al Falasi added that this Dialogue is an opportunity to exchange knowledge, experiences and best practices, seeing as our local experiences are diverse and we can benefit from cooperation with international organizations to build more effective strategies, policies and frameworks to protect children and their rights.

Concluding her speech, she reiterated her thanks and appreciation to all attendees and participants, hoping that this dialogue will mobilize efforts among the GCC Member States and strengthen their cooperation to protect children, secure their future, and work together to formulate outputs that achieve a better and more sustainable world for all.

The Secretary-General of the Gulf Cooperation Council said, in his speech delivered on his behalf by Engineer Abdullah Ali Al-Rabee, I am pleased to participate with you today in the launch of the first dialogue dedicated to children entitled: “The Gulf Countries’ Policy Dialogues on Child Wellbeing: Stronger and Inclusive Child Protection Systems in the Gulf”, graciously hosted by the UAE Supreme Council for Motherhood and Childhood in cooperation with the General Secretariat of the Gulf Cooperation Council, UNICEF and the Abu Dhabi Early Childhood Authority. Sincere thanks and appreciation to Her Excellency Rym Abdulla Al Falasi, Secretary General of the UAE Supreme Council for Motherhood and Childhood, and all the employees of the Supreme Council for Motherhood and Childhood for this kind initiative to organize the first dialogue dedicated to the children of the Gulf.

He added that it is widely known that the leaders of the GCC countries (may God protect and preserve them) have a keen interest in the welfare of all families, as they requested a study on prevention methods for the negative impact of some media on young people. The Advisory Board for the GCC Supreme Council in the Sultanate of Oman was tasked with evaluating children’s programs and how to develop them. A day has also been allocated to celebrate the Gulf child, which falls on 15 January of each year and is celebrated by all GCC countries, to spread awareness of children’s rights in several areas, including health and education, as children are the future generation. Additionally, on Gulf Children's Day, the GCC Statistical Center launched special statistics booklets for children to demonstrate the Gulf statistics in an entertaining manner suitable for the targeted age group to instill the spirit of belonging within the children in the Gulf.

Al-Budaiwi stressed that the GCC countries are in continuous development and keep pace with the goals of sustainable development in all fields, especially for all families, as children represent the pillar for the advancement of the GCC countries.

At the end of his speech, His Excellency, the Secretary-General of the Gulf Cooperation Council, extended his thanks and appreciation for the joint efforts to organize this dialogue, wishing success to all participants.

Her Excellency Sana Mohamed Suhail, Director General of the Abu Dhabi Early Childhood Authority, stressed that the regular evaluation of the performance of child protection systems is the key to further strengthening them. She added that this Dialogue provided an opportunity to exchange views and observations and to enhance cooperation with decision-makers in the GCC countries to ensure progress in the right direction and in line with the highest international standards, pointing out that the Dialogue focused on the role of policy frameworks and the strengthening of social workforces in protecting children, as well as the importance of strengthening coordinated services for case management, including investment in human capital in social work and the provision and approval of a qualified and trained workforce, to ensure effective implementation of child protection policies and programs and improving their results and positive effects on all children.

Her Excellency expressed the importance of these dialogues in enhancing the alignment of policies and systems that will be designed with the common culture and values ​​in the Arab Gulf region in mind by building on them and taking into account their consistency with the needs and aspirations of local communities, to achieve positive and sustainable results that are in the interest of children and promote their growth and prosperity.

Eltayeb Adam, UNICEF Representative to the Gulf Area, said, “I am encouraged by the success and outcomes of the Gulf Countries' Policy Dialogues on Child Wellbeing Dialogue. UNICEF is committed to providing the required support in this regard. The greater commitment by all stakeholders, especially the state actors, will deliver stronger child protection systems that benefit every child in the Gulf area and accelerate action towards ending abuse, exploitation, trafficking and all forms of violence and torture against children."

The Dialogue will be followed by the efforts of the Community of Practice – formed earlier this year – which plans to continue bringing together key counterparts in the Gulf Area. This will help generate dialogues and discussions, creating an environment for sharing knowledge and practices focusing on issues related to child protection.

As stated by Her Excellency Ambassador Dr. Haifa Abu Ghazaleh, Assistant Secretary-General and Head of the Social Affairs Sector of the League of Arab States, she considers the "Gulf Countries’ Policy Dialogues on Child Wellbeing" an important opportunity to shed light on the issue of social protection for children, which is one of their most basic rights stipulated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. She also added that the dialogue represents one of the principles on which social protection mechanisms are based, which is the principle of solidarity that reflects our willingness, as actors in childhood issues, to create an environment that promotes the development and activation of social protection systems and policies for children based on their rights and in line with sustainable development, as is in their best interest.

The event included discussion sessions involving all GCC countries, which dealt with best practices and interventions on child protection in the GCC, making child protection services comprehensive and global, child welfare and care, and the pivotal role of parents. These sessions represent a decisive step towards promoting children's rights and wellbeing and strengthening the cooperation of the GCC countries in protecting children and caring for their future.

The sessions also dealt with the Child-Friendly Cities initiative, and Ms. Suad Al Marzouqi from the Sharjah Child-Friendly Office of the Sharjah Health Authority presented the emirate’s efforts in this regard, including obtaining accreditation from UNICEF as the first city in the Middle East that is child and adolescent-friendly.

During the specialized sessions, vital issues related to child protection and wellbeing in the GCC countries were discussed to develop advanced strategies to ensure the protection of children and enhance their care, as well as the best practices and interventions used to maintain the safety of children and protect them from any threats. The sessions included exchanging experiences and knowledge between member states to develop a unified approach to promoting children's rights.

The sessions shed light on the challenges of protecting children in the digital era, as effective strategies were reviewed to address the dangers of the Internet and social media and ensure the safety of children within digital activities.

They also shed light on protecting children from negative influences, preserving culture and values, and the importance of cultural and social education to guide children towards positive values ​​and maintain their cultural identity.

Media contacts

Lina ElKurd
Communications Specialist
UNICEF
Tel: +971502139767

About UNICEF

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.

Follow UNICEF Gulf Area Office on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook