20 November 2016

Early interventions for a healthier, more prosperous future

A forum on early childhood development (ECD) marked Universal Children’s Day in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The event “Fatima bint Mubarak Forum on Motherhood and Childhood,” hosted by UAE Supreme Council for Motherhood and Childhood, focused particularly on innovations, highlighting that early interventions not only pave the way to school, but also lay the foundations for mental and physical health in adult life.

The overarching goal of the event was to discuss and position innovations in education on the local, regional and international agendas. It examined best innovative practices in early childhood development, while highlighting the role of parents, schools and professionals in enriching children’s development, experiences, perceptions, skills, mental abilities, interests and attitudes.

In a video statement, the United Nations Secretary-General, Mr. Ban Ki-moon, thanked Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak, Chairwoman of the General Women’s Union, President of the Supreme Council for Motherhood and Childhood, Supreme Chairwoman of the Family Development Foundation, for her support for women’s and children’s health, saying he is proud of the collaboration with the United Arab Emirates. “I am also honored to have H.E Rym Al Falasy as part of the High-Level Advisory Group for Every Woman Every Child,” he stated.

Dr. Luay Shabaneh, Director, UNFPA Regional Office for Arab States, paid tribute to Sheikha Fatima Bint Mubarak, stressing her role in the Arab Region and globally in supporting social justice, the empowerment of women and girls, supporting the disabled, and easing the pain of refugees and internally displaced persons through sense of humanity.

“Since the establishment of the General Women’s Union in 1973, the UAE has become a pioneer in empowering women and girls and supporting, girls’ education, maternal health and children’s well-being. The establishment of Supreme Council for Motherhood and Childhood was a true marker of UAE priority of maternal and child health,” said Dr. Shabaneh.

Stemming from its leadership belief in the importance of education and its significant role in fostering knowledge, the UAE has consistently provided services for developing children’s abilities and skills. The UAE has also awarded ECD a special standing in the national education system. The UAE has also been a strong supporter of innovations, a key priority for the Every Woman Every Child Innovation Market Place, which aims to tackle bottlenecks at the “critical testing” and “transition to scale” stages of promising innovations.

It is estimated that over 200 million children under five years of age are unable to attain their full developmental potential. The implications, both economic and societal, are profound. Yet, this is one of the most important and smartest investments we can make. Yet, health, learning and behavior interventions during early years are foundational not only for school success, but also for a child’s future capacity to contribute meaningfully to society.

“Children are the basis for all dimensions of sustainable development. We cannot successfully address early child development challenges without addressing other development issues linked to it,” said Every Woman Every Child’s Senior Manager, Ms. Nana Taona Kuo. Poverty reduction, education, nutrition, gender equality, social protection and inclusion are also key components of progress, Ms. Kuo stressed. “That is why cross-sector work and partnerships are critical in making real and lasting impact.”

The UAE has been a leader in promoting healthier societies and a champion for the Every Woman Every Child movement. The strong UAE leadership is also widely recognised in the area of humanitarian work and for its support for the Every Woman Every Child Everywhere platform, and the hosting of an annual meeting for this work by the Supreme Council for Motherhood and Childhood.

[Press Release] A UNFPA tribute to the contributions of Her Highness Sheikha Fatima Bint Mubarak

Video statement by the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon: