Under the patronage of H.H. Sheikh Saif Bin Zayed Al Nahyan
H.E. Jameela Al Muhairi: “The school should fulfil the role of a second mother”
H.E. Hessa Bu Humaid: “A strong family is the foundation of a strong society.”
Five-day conference aims to bring child protection and welfare issues to the fore before regional and global audience
20 November 2017 – Dubai, UAE: Under the patronage of Lt. General H.H. Sheikh Saif bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior, the 5th Arab Regional Conference on the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect was officially inaugurated today at Roda Al Bustan hotel in Dubai, with the participation of more than 400 delegates from across the world, and aims to bring child protection and welfare issues to the fore before a regional and global audience.
The main session of the conference that runs between the 18th and the 22nd of November was held under the theme of ‘From Legislation to Implementation', with the participation of H.E. Jameela Al Muhairi, Member of the Council of Ministers and Minister of State for Public Education, and H.E. Hessa Bu Humaid, Member of the Council of Ministers and Minister of Community Development.
During the day, H.E. Jameela Al Muhairi affirmed that the UAE has come a long way in a span of less than 50 years when it comes to child protection and social welfare laws. She paid tribute to Her Highness Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak, the Supreme Chairwoman of the Family Development Foundation (FDF), Chairwoman of the General Women's Union (GWU) and President of the Supreme Council for Motherhood and Childhood, Mother of the Nation, who laid the foundation of child advocacy and welfare laws in the UAE decades ago.
Furthermore, Her Excellency attributed the role of schools towards positive societal development, citing the role of a school's head as a ‘second mother', recognizing the fact that a child spends most of his/her day at an educational institution. This is essential for a child to feel safe and secure at a school, a right that every child should have, she asserted.
Her Excellency also touched on the topic of technology and rising cyberbullying, asserting that this poses a danger to society and that children should effectively be safeguarded from this threat. She made special mention of the fact that this is something that affects older adolescents as well, not just children. Her Excellency also cited the training programs in the country which have educated thousands of students on protecting themselves from cyberbullying, as well as the close attention paid to this issue by the Ministry of Interior, under the leadership of Lt. General His Highness Sheikh Saif bin Zayed Al Nahyan.
Speaking at the conference, H.E. Hessa Bint Essa Bu Humaid, Cabinet Member and Minister of Community Development, addressed the laws and regulations governing the rights of the child in the UAE, including the Wadima Law, which provides for the preservation of the right of children to life, survival and development, and to provide all necessary opportunities to facilitate this and to enjoy a free, secure and developed life, as well as to protect children against all forms of neglect, exploitation and ill-treatment, any physical and psychological violence, as well as humanitarian assistance..
As for the role of the Ministry of Community Development, Her Excellency stressed that the Ministry works in cooperation with the concerned authorities to establish regulations to guarantee and protect children's rights in accordance with the provisions of the law, including the establishment of social protection units to protect children's rights, in addition to identifying procedures for reporting child abuse in schools and educational institutions, in cooperation with the Ministry of Education, to facilitate the reporting of child rights violations by any person who wishes to report them.
She spoke at length about the Ministry's cooperation with the relevant authorities to establish regulations for sponsorship. She also shed insights on the partnerships that the Ministry is actively working to achieve with various sectors and its impact on the protection of children's rights.
Citing the Wadima Law, Her Excellency stated that is an important tool of social protection within the country. She also highlighted the plight of children with special needs, saying that they need to be given special attention and that society needs to play an active part in this.
Mentioning the fact that a strong family is the foundation of a strong society, Her Excellency highlighted a special phone hotline for children and, as well as the existence of social protection units, aimed at the welfare of children across the country.
The opening ceremony of the conference began with a speech by His Excellency Dr. Abdullah Al Khayat, Chairman of the Dubai Foundation for Women and Children, in which he emphasized that the selection of Dubai as the host city was an affirmation of the role and the important position that the emirate occupies in this area and an expression of the emirate's keenness to achieve excellence in it.
“In light of the intensification of conflicts in the world over the past few years, we have focused our efforts on legislation to protect children,' said Her Excellency Afra Al Basti, Director General, Dubai Foundation for Women and Children. 'Protecting this vulnerable group is especially important, in conjunction with the general framework of the Conference 'From Legislation to Implementation'. We hope that participants will attain the maximum benefit that will later be translated into actions, for an effective impact on societies.'
Prof. Bernard Gerbaka, The President of the International Society for the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect (ISPCAN), stressed the importance of this event in supporting the efforts of protecting and caring for children in the region and the world, praising the efforts of the UAE and its fruitful cooperation with international and regional bodies in promoting legislation and protection applications.
Dr. Majed Al-Eissa, the elected president of the Arab Professionals Society for the Prevention of Violence against Children, said in his speech at the conference that although the Arab world has gone a long way in child protection legislation, the gap is still wide between theoretical legislation and its real applications. On the other hand, it is a dilemma and hence, was in agreement with the slogan of ‘From Legislation To Implementation' as the underlying theme of the conference.
Suzanne Bissell, UNICEF's President of the Child Protection Program, and Maha Al-Muneef, Executive Director of the National Family Safety Program in Saudi Arabia, participated as official speakers on the opening day of the conference, as did Dr. Tafil Mohammed of the International Society for the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect.
The first day of the conference included a number of seminars and workshops that included a group of specialists on children's issues. The first panel discussed the most important laws and regulations for children, the role of the lawyer in protecting human rights, a review of international case studies, which highlighted case studies, as well as best practices from the Ministry of the Interior in child protection. The first day also included key seminars on collecting data on children's issues, parenting and disciplinary alternatives, as well as a special seminar on child neglect, as well as on information and information technology and its impact on violence against children.
During the first day, a number of workshops were held, the most important of which was a workshop on practical applications on the Child Rights law in the UAE. The second day of the conference will include a number of specialized seminars on the experiences of child protection institutions and the readiness to prevent child abuse in the GCC countries. There will also be a third symposium, centred on the issue of child exploitation.
Prior to Day One, the 5th Arab Regional Conference on the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect was preceded by a range of seminars and workshops on the 18th and the 19th of November. Part of this was the “Countries in Transition” forum, an opportunity to learn about measures taken by countries with different economic backgrounds to prevent child abuse.