Add quotes of Queen Silvia, Sheikha Lubna Al Qasimi and UNFPA representative ABU DHABI, 20th November, 2016 (WAM) -- H.H. Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak, Chairwoman of the General Women's Union, Supreme Chairwoman of the Family Development Foundation and President of the Supreme Council for Motherhood and Childhood, has reiterated that this week's Fatima bint Mubarak Motherhood and Childhood Forum is a global platform aimed at deepening dialogue and understanding, while boosting progress for human societies around the world.

In her opening remarks made at the forum today at the Emirates Palace, Sheikha Fatima said that the event focuses on children's issues, to properly prepare their present and future, as the starting point for achieving human development on the march of society and its promotion at all levels.

Sheikha Fatima's speech, which was delivered on her behalf by Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Culture and Knowledge Development, went on to welcome the broad participation of delegates from all brotherly and friendly countries, as well as the attendance of Her Majesty Queen Silvia of Sweden.

H.H. Sheikha Fatima commended Queen Silvia's unremitting efforts to achieve a better future for all community groups, especially children, with the aim of achieving progress and development in all parts of the world.

"Every family in the UAE is doing their best to instill Arab-Islamic identity in their children, bring them up on values to do good to others, to be outstanding students and, later, good citizens,'' HH said.

''The UAE is keen to arm children with the culture and skills that build a good, responsible character capable of dealing with challenging situations,'' she added.

In her address to the forum, Queen Silvia stressed that education is the most hopeful powerful vehicle for positive change.

Queen Silvia also expressed her deep admiration for Sheikha Fatima's passion and pioneering work for the wellbeing of women and children.

''You chose the best possible day to host the Fatima Bint Mubarak Motherhood and Childhood Forum. The 20th November, we celebrate the Convention of the Rights of the Child, the most ratified treaty in the world. It is the birthday of every child's universal rights. The right to survival, development, protection and to participation. The convention has created a fundamental change in how we perceive children as actors in their own right,'' she stated.

''Looking at the state of the world around us and the difficulties many children are facing, it is easy to despair. Much progress has been made, but still too many children die and suffer, yet many more do not reach their full potential. It is our duty to make sure children's rights are fulfilled,'' Queen Silvia noted.

''This is a moral imperative. But also it is the most important and worthwhile investment for a future with peace and prosperity.

''We need the children as much as they need us. We need to foster brave and responsible citizens of tomorrow. We need to prepare for ideas and innovation, which will solve not only the problems of today, but those of tomorrow, as well. Children think freely, their minds are not yet limited and framed by norms and limitations. Also, children have unique knowledge about what it is like to be a child.

These are competencies, she added, ''we need to tap into. Therefore, I am delighted to see the focus on child participation so strongly on the agenda of today's meeting. Children are change agents, not just passive recipients.'' ''I believe we can all unite around education and embrace it as a core theme of today. Education is the most hopeful powerful vehicle for positive change. With education, vicious circles of poverty and discrimination can be broken and sustainable development can be expected", she affirmed.

''In addition, and this brings me to something especially close to my heart, if we want to create the best environment for learning and development, if we want to foster innovation and creativity, we need to make sure that the child is safe and that childhood can be filled with joy and love, as well as curiosity, play and learning."

Queen Silvia founded World Childhood Foundation in Sweden 17 years ago, with a vision that every child should have a safe and happy childhood.

In a video message played at the forum, Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations, thanked Sheikha Fatima for her efforts in childhood development in the UAE, the region and beyond.

He also said that while the world was celebrating Children's Day on Sunday, it was important to remember that violence against children has increased and that it is vital that children's rights are ensured across the world.

He expressed the UN's desire to team with the UAE in this field.

Addressing the one-day event, Sheikha Lubna bint Khalid Al Qasimi, Minister of State for Tolerance and President of Zyed University, revealed that the University's Early Learning Center (ECLC) on the Abu Dhabi campus would open a branch at the Dubai campus in January 2017.

''The two centres will accommodate, together, 200 children.

''The Zayed University ECLC is a holistic learning center where your children will play, learn and develop in a bilingual environment, '' she said.

The Center uses an innovative research based program that incorporates the philosophy of the Creative Curriculum, which draws from the best international standards. The program promotes discovery, self- expression, interactive learning and skill building for future school success in a play- based environment.

Dr. Luay Shabana, Regional Director of Arab States, United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), honoured Sheikha Fatima for her tireless efforts to develop and protect women and children, and provide both with all amenities, including educational and health services.

''HH Sheikha Fatima supports women in the UAE, as well as in the region and beyond. She advocates social justice, encourages and empowers girls and women, and makes efforts to alleviate the suffering of women refugees,'' he said.

Shamma bint Sohail Faris AlMazrui, Minister of State for Youth Affairs, Dr. Ali Rashid Al Nuaimi, Director-General of Abu Dhabi Education Council, and a group of advocates of childhood development, addressed issues related to children's growth and wellbeing.

Those at the sessions also discussed the state of education in the country, the role of parents, caregivers, teachers and state policies in laying a solid foundation for children's personal development and in enriching their experiences, perspectives, skills, mental abilities and interests.

Participants also talked about best practices in early learning and emerging innovative solutions to foster great care-giving, teaching and inclusion of children with special needs.

Source: Emirates News Agency