Sharjah: Sheikha Jawaher bint Mohammed Al Qasimi, Chairperson of the Supreme Council for Family Affairs and wife of His Highness the Ruler of Sharjah, has made a strong call for a renewed global commitment urging greater cooperation among world leaders, decision makers, humanitarian organisations and civil society to protect children from being pushed into the world of forced labour and exploitation.
Speaking on the occasion of World Day Against Child Labour, Sheikha Jawaher said, “Elimination of child labour requires us to focus attention on the societal triggers of this global epidemic; most notably armed conflicts, poverty, climate change, and limited access to education, welfare, and one’s rights. The benefits of ending child labour are immeasurable. Children who are free from the burden of child labour are able to fully realise their rights to education, leisure, and a healthy development, and in turn become the very foundations of a just, equitable society for future generations.”
Sheikha Jawaher shed light on the dismal International Labour Organisation child labour statistic, according to which 168 million children are forced into child labour. “Children are not only being exploited as forced labourers; they are subjected to dangerous environments when they are trafficked or recruited as child soldiers,” she noted.
On the reality of children and youth in the world, in view of armed conflicts, Sheikha Jawaher said, “Reforming the world starts with a happy childhood filled with love and care, as a child’s memory determines the person’s characteristics and attitudes, and the rest of their lives. Many social deformities in people emerge out of the emotional deprivation and marginalisation they suffer in the early years of life.
“The conflicts we see today are led by young people who grew up in broken homes and societies. This signals an immediate need for nations to move much faster with their efforts to build societies in which children’s voices are fully heard, and their rights and aspirations are protected. How can we ask the youth to give back to society if we do not nurture them or embrace their dreams when they are dependent on us for support and direction?”
Commenting on Sharjah being named a “Child-Friendly City” by UNICEF, she said, “This recognition is a result of decades of efforts and single-minded devotion to children’s welfare by a variety of social actors in the emirate who were guided by the vision of His Highness Dr. Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah.