by Nandini Sircar
Published: Sat 20 Nov 2021, 5:38 PM
Young people took over the Expo 2020 stage on Saturday reimagining a better future, as the biggest-ever celebration of World Children’s Day arrived in Dubai.
Organised by Expo 2020 Dubai, in partnership with the UAE Ministry of Community Development and UNICEF, the line-up of events included inspiring talks and a concert with the acclaimed Lebanese singer and UNICEF regional ambassador Yara.
From innovations driving progress on child-related Sustainable Development Goals to touch on education, mental health, climate and youth leadership, Expo’s World Children’s Day witnessed young thought leaders envision a better future and mobilising collective action.
This dynamic segment featured performances and inspirational talks from children, youth and leaders from around the world who are bringing about positive change through arts and innovation. Hessa Bint Essa Buhumaid, minister of community development for the UAE, highlighted the efforts of the ministry of community development and childhood relevant authorities in providing the best welfare, protection and empowerment of childhood, emphasizing the country’s commitment to a better future for all children in the world, the region and the UAE.
She said, “We are celebrating one of the most important and beautiful days of the year which marks the World International Children’s Day. We at the ministry of community development and all the other relevant authorities that support childhood in the UAE are part of the UAE’s commitment to creating a better future for all children in the world at large and especially in the UAE and in the region. This is the joint effort of the Ministry and all the relevant authorities to integrate with UNICEF to promote a safe, reassured and confident future for all our children.”
“This day at Expo 2020 promotes us to think and plan, discuss and even argue about the future of our Future. ‘His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE, said that everyone is responsible for everyone.’ We take this idea forward in all our actions. The UAE has been very keen to join International organisations to rectify and to improve many agreements particularly those related to children’s rights, human trafficking crimes, especially related to women and children, Child Labour and minimum working age, right of children with disabilities and other agreements that protect children from around the World”, added Buhumaid.
She underlined the UAE is characterised by giving the best welfare for children through the efforts of both federal and local government authorities to enjoy their lives smoothly here She later opines, “Within the national law there was legislation ensuring the inclusion of 74 articles and 12 chapters that cover protection of Children’s rights and fundamental rights of families, health, social and cultural rights, educational rights at the very heart of all that we do at the Federal government level of the UAE. More than 12 relevant laws have been issued to promote the best welfare practices and to support the empowerment of children.”
Following this, young people also took to the global stage as advocates for their own rights.
Noor Saleh Alblooshi, Member of the Emirati Children’s Parliament and Advocate of Youth Education Issues shed light on the challenges and solutions of modern-day learning.
She avers, “If each and every educational community came together on one table, discussed and shared experiences this will help in covering education gaps. I feel all institutions and ministries should focus on the idea of activities.”
“Although older people have ideas, ideas that come from the youth are much more relevant to our generation and will help the youth and our generation. We need to consider three things…activities, online educational platforms and coming together and sharing experiences with everyone.”
Speaking on reimagining the future and enhancing the planet’s climate target, Priyanka Lalla, Child Rights Advocate, UNICEF, points out, “we will only be satisfied when we have measurable, sustainable and effective action into place. Young people are key in moving forward and mitigating and adapting to climate change. We should also have young people become part of the conversation and be part of the decision making.”
“This is integral in building a sustainable and equitable future and having young people from different cultural and ethnic groups because each one of us faces this climate crisis in a different way.”
Reiterating the need for the voices of young people to be part of global conversations Geetanjali Rao, Scientist and TIME Kid of the Year 2020 elucidated on cyberbullying and the use and abuse of social media.
Rao said, “I think a common factor amongst all of us is to adapt to any change. We need to grow up with what is there in the world around us and that’s what social media is able to bring to us. But Cyberbullying makes people vulnerable. So I created a simple and impactful approach to it…one that does not focus only on the victim but also focuses on self-learning opportunities for the bully.”
“I created an artificially based service called ‘Kindly’ that detects and prevents cyberbullying at an early stage. It’s a solution byteenagers for teenagers. I am excited to see the changes that it makes.”