Every child deserves the best start in life, says Sheikha Jawaher in Pakistan

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Nevin Al Sukari - Abu Dhabi - Sheikha Jawaher with Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan, Special Assistant to the Pakistani Prime Minister, during her visit to a school.

Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher Bint Mohammed Al Qasimi, Chairperson of The Big Heart Foundation (TBHF), and Eminent Advocate for Refugee Children at UNHCR, has called on governments and civil society organisations to treat the education of the low-income and crises affected communities as a priority.

She noted that the protection of children’s dignity and enabling them access to high-quality education and wellbeing should be the starting point for development and advancement programmes globally. Otherwise, the world’s developmental march would generate substandard results, Sheikha Jawaher asserted.

These statements were made during a six-day visit to Pakistan, Sheikha Jawaher Al Qasimi began with attending the opening session of the 'International Conference on 40 Years of Hosting Afghan Refugees in Pakistan' organised by UNHCR and The Government of Pakistan, which concluded on Friday (February 21).

Jawaher-in-Pak-3-750x450 Sheikha Jawaher checks some traditional Pakistani dresses. WAM

She was accompanied by an official delegation comprising Sheikha Hind Bint Majjid Al Qassimi, Chairperson of Sharjah Business Women Council (SBWC) and Noura Al Noman, Chairperson of Sheikha Jawaher Al Qasimi Executive Office; Erum Mazher Alvie, Senior Advisor at Sheikha Jawaher Al Qasimi Executive Office; Maryam Al Hammadi, Director of TBHF; Reem BinKaram, Director of NAMA Women Advancement Establishment (NAMA).

The visit entailed meetings with senior officials and staff of several educational and childcare institutions that target low-income families in the cities of Islamabad and Lahore, and were set up to gain comprehensive insights into the current status of services and care being offered to young refugees and children from low-income families.

During the meetings, Sheikha Jawaher highlighted support mechanisms that need to be adopted by local and international stakeholders to align the design and delivery of services with children’s educational and welfare needs.

Jawaher-in-Pak-750x450 Sheikha Jawaher speaks to a group during her visit to Pakistan. WAM

Sheikha Jawaher visited Master Ayoub School in Islamabad, accompanied by Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan, Special Assistant to the Pakistani Prime Minister; and Hamad Obaid Al Zaabi, UAE Ambassador to Pakistan. The delegation was received by the school’s principal and founder, Mohammad Ayub Khan and a number of students.

Since 1982, Ayoub has been offering open lectures and lessons to students from low-income families in an open public park square in the capital.

A former fireman, Ayoub founded the school to alleviate the exacerbating problems in Pakistani communities, which resulted from child abuse, exploitation and crime.

Sheikha Jawaher has lauded Ayoub's efforts and undulating determination to help the segments of community who have dismal or no access to resources, saying small initiatives like these led by unsung heroes like Ayoub, make the biggest difference to society.

"Education symbolises hope for both individuals and societies, as it equips us with the power to overcome the biggest odds, bridges the development gap between nations, and makes every educated induvial an equal partner in giving. Children’s education specifically is a basic human right, like the right to live. Education empowers our children with dignity, knowledge and empathy. It is a tool to shape positive personalities who denounce hate and racism, and contribute as changemakers by accelerating conflict resolution and bridging socioeconomic disparities between societies. It is also the foundation of national development and global coexistence. This simply means that by educating our children, we are investing in our future," Sheikha Jawaher noted.

Jawaher-in-Pak-2-750x450 Sheikha Jawaher during her visit to a school in Pakistan. WAM

"Every child in the world deserves the best start in life; it can only be enabled by a good education," Sheikha Jawaher further asserted.

Sheikha Jawaher emphasised that knowledge is a source of strength for women and a pillar of society during visit to The Citizens Foundation.

Stressing on the need for a stronger push by governments and civil society organisations to educate the girlchild in low-income communities, Sheikha Jawaher Al Qasimi opined: "Educating girls is one of the surest ways to overcome socioeconomic challenges, ensure continued prosperity of families and secure the future of the next generation. Parents, therefore, need to know that they must replace their aspirations to marry their young female children early with education. Knowledge is a source of strength for women, and a pillar of society. By educating girls, we set them up for success - at home, in marriage, at work, in society.

Sheikha Jawaher added: "We need to change the perception of girls in impoverished or low-income communities that their rights can be compromised. No, their rights or their needs do not come in second place. It is upon us to build their self-esteem; to empower them to demand for their right to be educated. Nations worldwide need educated, confident women who know that their talents, energy and capabilities are pivotal to growing and nurturing their communities.

WAM

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