Sharjah has taken a big step forward towards becoming an officially recognised Child-Friendly City following the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), between the Sharjah Baby-Friendly Office and the Unicef-Gulf Area Office.
The agreement, which was signed at the Sharjah Baby-Friendly Office the organisation tasked with establishing Sharjah’s child and family-friendly credentials. The aim is to ensure that the emirate focuses on the family as a key to achieving comprehensive development across all fields and activities that support the well-being of children.
Dr. Hessa Al Ghazal, Executive Director of SBFO, and Shahida Azfar, Representative ad interim at Unicef-Gulf Area Office, signed the agreement at Al Qasba. The signatories agreed that the agreement will build on the existing efforts that Sharjah has undertaken to become an officially accredited Unicef Child-Friendly City.
“With SBFO’s signing of the MoU with Unicef, Sharjah has taken one step closer to becoming an officially recognised Child-Friendly City. We have agreed with the international community to implement a set of proposals to build on Sharjah’s successful initiatives to ensure that the emirate is an ideal place for children to grow and thrive. Sharjah has long held the principles of being family friendly and this collaboration will ensure that the city meets the international requirements set forth by Unicef to receive the Child-Friendly City status,” Dr. Al Ghazal said.
Under the terms of the agreement, SBFO will work to set up a practical framework for the implementation of the UAE’s Child Protection Law No. 3, known as the Wadeema Law, in Sharjah, in consultation with policy makers and legal institutions in the UAE. The legislation came into effect in June last year and was enacted to protect children from all forms of abuse.
The MoU will also put in place a communication strategy to increase the understanding and awareness of the Child-Friendly City initiative. SBFO will oversee and co-ordinate the development of opportunities for all children in Sharjah to enjoy play and leisure, as well as address issues of equity and discrimination, and introduce measures to overcome barriers that lead to exclusion.
“It is a great pleasure for us to visit Sharjah and sign this important agreement. Unicef is proud to partner with the emirate to promote children’s rights and to create the very best environment for them to grow a model for other cities and countries to follow. Sharjah has clearly demonstrated its commitment to providing opportunities for all children and to ensure equity, which is one of the main goals of Unicef’s Child-Friendly Cities initiative. We hope to formally declare the emirate a Child-Friendly City very soon,” Azfar said.