Saturday 28 May 2022 - 12:18:18 pm

Sharjah wins UNICEF Inspire Award for second straight time

SHARJAH, 17th November, 2021 (WAM) -- Just ahead of the World Children’s Day, a day marked annually on November 20 to promote international togetherness on improving children's welfare, the emirate of Sharjah has reaffirmed its commitment to this common global goal and done the UAE proud by winning the prestigious UNICEF Child Friendly Cities Initiative (CFCI) Inspire Award for the second time in a row.

The UNICEF Cities Inspire Award is one of the most prestigious global awards given to innovative and inspiring initiatives of child-friendly cities under six categories.

Sharjah Child Friendly Office brought the laurel home by showcasing excellence in its ‘Sharjah Child Friendly City Project, which was launched in 2016, based on the vision of His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah, and his wife, Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher bint Mohammed Al Qasimi, Chairperson of the Supreme Council for Family Affairs, to protect and elevate the rights and wellbeing of children of all ages in Sharjah, without discrimination as to gender, nationality or ability. It is tasked with creating joint child friendly strategies in cooperation with more than 30 relevant entities.

The ongoing Sharjah Child Friendly City project’s strategic objectives are inspired by the five main goals of Child Friendly Cities Initiatives (CFCI): every child and young person is valued, respected and treated fairly within their communities and by local authorities; their voice, needs and priorities heard and considered; has access to quality essential social services; lives in a safe, secure and clean environment; and has opportunities to enjoy family life, play and leisure.

Dr. Hessa Khalfan Al Ghazal, Executive Director of SCFO, said the award was the culmination of Sharjah’s efforts under the directives of the Ruler of Sharjah and Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher to strengthen its child-friendly initiatives under a 4-year action plan in 2018 in partnership with UNICEF. Discussion sessions with children and youth had resulted in several outcomes that had been implemented successfully, such as the Child Friendly Urban Planning initiative; Child Friendly Schools and Nurseries initiative; Child Friendly Media initiative; Sharjah Children and Youth Carnivals; and the Child Rights Dissemination initiative.

She added: "Sharjah aims to set an inspiring model for other Arab cities to adopt its approaches and policies to transform themselves into child-friendly havens. I would like to extend my sincere thanks to all our partners who have helped realise SCFO’s goals and turned them into reality. This success is not an individual feat, but a team effort which every entity and individual involved in the project shares. Our collaboration will help advance Sharjah’s status as a Child Friendly City, and a beacon of knowledge, culture, and creativity."

UNICEF honour follows a series of child-friendly initiatives designed through SCFO’s unique participatory approach that involved children and the youth This global recognition follows the Sharjah Child Friendly City Project’s leadership in launching several successful initiatives, which were developed through a participatory approach, involving several discussion sessions with children and youth. These initiatives, listed below, were designed based on SCFO’s detailed situation analysis to achieve the project objectives.

- The Child friendly Urban Planning (CFUP) initiative, conceived in 2017 by SCFO and the Sharjah Urban Planning Council (SUPC), in partnership with UNICEF and UN Habitat, calls for assimilating safe, playful, and stimulating everyday experiences in the emirate’s planning, designing and management of projects. Through guided discussions, it encouraged children and youth to present ideas and solutions to solve the issues with the city’s current urban structure. Furthermore, it led to the launch of the pioneering ‘Sharjah Principles for Child-Friendly Urban Planning’, which has set a global benchmark in child-friendly urban planning best practices.

- The Child Friendly Schools and Nurseries (CFSN) initiative, which was launched in August 2019 by SCFO in collaboration with UNICEF, Sharjah Private Education Authority (SPEA) and Sharjah Education Council (SEC). A comprehensive toolkit was developed in both Arabic and English to serve as a guide to developing a comprehensive system that contributes to promoting children’s rights in schools and nurseries and further develop learning and play strategies and create a supportive and stimulating environment for children.

- The Child Friendly Media (CFM) initiative, a reflection of Sharjah’s commitment to implementing international standards of child rights in the emirate. It aims to raise the awareness of media professionals regarding children’s rights and educate them on the ethical and professional guidelines that should be followed when covering children’s issues.

- The Sharjah Children & Youth Carnivals, which was launched on November 20, 2018, World Children’s Day, to celebrate the recognition of Sharjah as a Child Friendly City. Over the years, the carnivals have educated thousands of children, youth, and their families from different nationalities and cultures. In 2019, the SBFO broke the Guinness World Records title for ‘Most people in a photo cutout board picture’.

- Child Rights Dissemination initiatives where Sharjah used different modalities to promote children rights through story and song productions, with social media campaigns ensuring regional and global visibility of children rights activities.

SCFO participated in the first cycle of the CFCI Inspire Award in 2019, with Sharjah winning in the 'Child-Friendly Social Services' category for its Sharjah Baby Friendly Project that supported breastfeeding

WAM/Hatem Mohamed