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Qatar- WISH symposium calls for strengthening children’s rights

(MENAFN – The Peninsula) Doha: Qatar Foundation’s World Innovation Summit for Health (WISH) in partnership with Unicef and stakeholders from across the globe, held a special virtual event to mark the World Children’s Day yesterday. 

The post-WISH 2020 event featured keynote talks, panel discussions, live musical and art performances, while Doha’s landmark buildings lit up in ‘UN blue’ to show support for universal child rights. The opening ceremony featured a welcome addresses by, Vice-Chairperson and CEO of Qatar Foundation, H E Sheikha Hind bint Hamad Al Thani and Unicef Executive Director, Henrietta Fore. 

‘On this day we need to highlight our shared responsibility and duty to safeguard and protect the rights of children. This year has pushed us to ask the big picture questions, as the world begins to heal (from the pandemic) we should use the moment to rebuild a system which is destructed and reconstruct with a change. The change starts with education and education has to change, said Sheikha Hind. 

While, speaking to an online audience, Henrietta Fore urged governments and organizations around the world to strengthen prevention and response services to help children weather the crisis.

‘Even before COVID-19, violence against children was far too commonplace. And now, the pandemic is increasing the risk. With school closures, disruption of livelihoods, family confinement, and isolation, children are not only cut off from the social supports that they need at school and in the community, they’re at heightened risk of violence and abuse, as well as child marriage and child labor, Fore said.

The World Children’s Day 2020 theme ‘A day to reimagine a better future for every child’ is a challenge to rebuild a better world for children.  

A live art performance by the Omani artist and disability rights activist Safiya Al Bahlani was included throughout the programme. She was drawing an original art piece based on the day’s theme, and participants can observe her creative process during a live stream of the artist at work. Her completed work was unveiled at the end.  

Three interactive panel discussions highlighted some of the severest development challenges. In turn, they examined child and adolescent health during COVID-19, with a focus on the need to protect vulnerable children; a public health approach to addressing violence against children; and child development in the information age a time when digital technology, such as social media, can be a significant threat to a child wellbeing. 

Focusing on the plight of children living in warzones, Inger Ashing, CEO of UK-based humanitarian charity ‘Save the Children’, and active WISH partner, lead a presentation on their report, ‘Stop the War on Children’. Their research has revealed that five times more children than fighters are being killed in conflicts and that the number of grave violations against children has almost tripled since 2010. 

The event concluded with ‘America’s Got Talent’ winner Kodi Lee performing a number of songs which he dedicated to children around the world, followed by a group of young musicians from Qatar Music Academy playing a medley of songs from Disney’s Aladdin.

While the musical performances took place, landmark locations across Doha turned UN blue, including Msheireb Downtown Doha’s Barahat Square, the Museum of Islamic Art, the National Museum of Qatar, and 2015 (QF Headquarters).

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