UNICEF joins Egyptian university to boost child protection in Islamic world

30 November 2005

With a disproportionate number of the 600 million children in the Islamic world facing huge challenges, from poverty and disease to lack of education and protection, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has teamed up with Egypt’s prestigious Al-Azhar University to produce a manual to improve child development.

With a disproportionate number of the 600 million children in the Islamic world facing huge challenges, from poverty and disease to lack of education and protection, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has teamed up with Egypt’s prestigious Al-Azhar University to produce a manual to improve child development.

The manual, Children in Islam, Their Care, Protection and Development, includes research papers and extracts of Koranic verses, Hadiths and Sunnas with guidance on children’s rights in such areas as health, education and protection in a broad-level effort to advance the well-being of children in Islamic countries and communities.

The manual “can make a critical difference for millions of children in the Muslim world by putting information related to child survival, development and protection from the perspective of Islam into the hands of those who can use it effectively - Imams, Islamic religious leaders and others who are working with children, their families and communities,” UNICEF Deputy Executive Director Rima Salah said.

Meeting the needs and guaranteeing the rights of these children – who account for more than a quarter of the world’s 2.3 billion children – are key to the success of overall efforts to combat poverty, accelerate human development and build a more peaceful future.

An earlier publication by UNICEF and Al-Azhar University titled Child Care in Islam published in 1984 focused on issues relating to the survival of young children, but new problems have since come into focus including female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C), child labour, child trafficking and HIV/AIDS.

The new manual helps make clear that harmful traditional practices often falsely associated with Islam, such as FGM/C and gender discrimination in education, are not mentioned in the Koran and have no basis in Islamic law. It reflects the broader vision for children that has emerged over the past two decades ago.

Representatives of international and Islamic organisations, funding institutions, governments, non-governmental organisations, academic institutions and the broader faith community attended the event at Al-Azhar University’s main Conference Hall yesterday to release the new manual.

 

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