Sharjah: In a groundbreaking achievement for the UAE, Sharjah has been named a ‘Child-Friendly City’ (CFC) by the United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) in recognition of its outstanding efforts and accomplishments in the protection and promotion of children’s rights.
The announcement was made during a special session for Sharjah’s children and youth held at the Consultative Council of Sharjah, in the presence of His Highness Dr Shaikh Sultan Bin Mohammad Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, and Shaikha Budoor Bint Sultan Al Qasimi, chairperson of the Sharjah Baby Friendly Office.
Sharjah has been crowned the first city in the world to receive the UN’s prestigious title after successfully meeting the new international requirements and criteria launched by Unicef’s global CFC initiative and its new brand identity last month, to ensure the fulfilment of children’s rights under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.
The accolade comes just three years after the emirate was named ‘Baby-Friendly City’ by the UN and World Health Organisation.
Speaking on the occasion, Dr Shaikh Sultan, who received the official accreditation from Unicef, said: “Our key goal has been, and always will be, to provide the sound foundations for a society where everyone can participate in shaping a future that fits their ambitions and ours. And in spite of the technological evolution and changing tools of labour, it is the human who will determine the direction and progress of societies and civilisations through ideology and determination.”
Despite technological evolution and changing tools of labour, it is the human who will determine the direction and progress of societies and civilisations through ideology and determination.”
- Dr Shaikh Sultan Bin Mohammad Al Qasimi
Addressing the children and youth, Dr Shaikh Sultan said: “Today, we are here for you and will always work for you. I want you to know that every effort undertaken by Sharjah is a responsibility for us and a fundamental right for you. Moreover, we will always strive to achieve more. This is why we established the Sharjah Children’s Shura Council and the Youth Shura Council where you can be a major influence on your society and enhance your loyalty to the nation.”
The selection of Sharjah was based on a range of specific criteria, which included that every child be treated respectfully and equally by society and all bodies and authorities. Other stipulations stated that children have the right to grow up in a safe and clean environment where they feel safe and secure, have access to basic services, can play, learn and grow and where their voice is heard and matters.
Louise Thivant, policy and advocacy specialist at Unicef, gave an address, praising Sharjah’s efforts in its journey to be recognised a Child-Friendly City, and the work and dedication shown by the emirate to provide the best care for children, protect their rights, and prepare them for the future according to the highest international standards. Six youngsters spoke during the session expressing their pride in Sharjah being crowned with such a prestigious title and also gave their suggestions and insights about the emirate’s efforts in the welfare and protection of children and young people in the years to come.
Khalid Hafedh, a member of the Sharjah Youth Consultative Council who suffers from hearing and speech impairments, said in sign language: “I am extremely happy because I live in Sharjah — a city where we feel that we are truly loved, respected and appreciated. Sharjah is home to schools and sports and leisure clubs where I can communicate with my peers although I can neither speak nor hear. I hope that Sharjah will continue spreading awareness about our needs and carry on with its efforts to ensure that all buildings and institutions, schools and public places are child-friendly and conducive to children with disabilities.”