Sharjah: The Big Heart Foundation — a Sharjah-based global humanitarian refugee charity — has rolled out a fund to advocate for the rights of girls in the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia.
Called ‘The Girl Child Fund,’ the new initiative was launched by Shaikha Jawaher Bint Mohammad Al Qasimi, wife of His Highness Dr Shaikh Sultan Bin Mohammad Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council the Ruler of Sharjah, who chairs the foundation.
The fund aims to ensure that girls have access to education, health care, food, security and social and psychological support.
The initiative allows for corporate and community involvement via fund-raising campaigns.
It will aim to protect the basic rights of the girl child and work to prevent underage marriage, child trafficking and child labour.
The fund will work towards this by raising awareness of the rights of girls and advocating for the adoption and activation of policies that provide them with adequate protection.
Shaikha Jawaher highlighted the impact on society when girls are abused and denied their human rights. She cited how girls being forced into underage marriage, trafficked and barred from education, damage families and harm economies.
“Giving attention and care to girls does so much more than safeguard a particularly vulnerable segment of the community, it means creating a strong society for the future,” she said.
“Today’s girls are tomorrow’s mothers and mothers are the backbone of the family, with their important role shaping entire communities.
“Violence and injustice against girls leaves a terrible legacy for society for years to come.”
Across the world, girls are being denied their right to education, which constitutes “a huge problem,” that results in both short and long term effects for countries.
“Women are teachers, nurses, doctors, engineers and leaders. Jeopardising their right to acquire knowledge interrupts the cultural and humanitarian advancement of societies.”
The foundation hopes to make a tangible difference in the lives of girls by providing education and health care — and by rallying international support.
According to UN women’s statistics, women and girls constitute 70 per cent of the total known cases of global trafficking victims.
Figures released by the UN’s rights body show that nearly 700 million girls worldwide are married under the age of 18 years.
If this practice continues at the current rate, the figure will rise to nearly 950 million by 2030.
The Girl Child Fund will enter into regional and global partnerships to expand the scope of its operations in order to reach the largest possible number of girls.
The initiative will operate in cooperation with relevant international bodies and organisations involved in advocacy for girls, including education, health and human rights, so as to implement innovative strategies and projects that can make a positive change in their lives.
The launch of The Girl Child Fund is in line with the UAE’s nationwide ‘Year of Giving’ programme.
The Big Heart Foundation was officially launched by Shaikha Jawaher in June 2015 to coincide with World Refugee Day.
It followed the decision issued by Shaikha Jawaher to transform what was then The Big Heart Campaign into a global humanitarian foundation.