Queen Rania Launches GAM’s ‘Policy and Priorities for Childhood’ Document

July 05, 2005

(Office of Her Majesty, Press Department – Amman) Aspiring to declare Amman a child-friendly city by the year 2010 was the purpose behind the “Policy and Priorities of the Greater Amman Municipality for Childhood” -- a policy framework document which was unveiled on Monday.

Her Majesty Queen Rania Al-Abdullah launched the policy document in an official ceremony attended by childhood stakeholders and practitioners from governmental and non-governmental institutions, along with children and youth.

Formulated in close co-operation with some 700 children, youth and representatives from governmental, non-governmental and private sector organizations, and presented to the attendees by 6 out of the 446 children and youth who have participated in its development, the document is based on the building blocks of the Child Friendly Cities Initiative specifically detailing the current gaps within the country’s existing child-related programs and services.

Developed in response to the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) Child Protection Initiative (CPI), a World Bank supported project, which is hosted by the Arab Urban Development Institute (AUDI), the document specifically illustrates the above within ten components, based on the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) and the 2004-2013 National Plan of Action for Children (NPA), which was developed by the NCFA, in close co-ordination with the Ministry of Planning and UNICEF.

The components are: Primary and psychological health care and counseling; child labor and economic empowerment; child safety and protection from violence; children with disabilities; information technology and personal social development; culture, art and innovation; urban planning; the child-built environment; child involvement and community-based planning.

CPI MENA was initiated in response to the December 2002 Amman conference “Children and the City”, which called for the establishment of a regional fund to rapidly respond to the risks faced by children, particularly those vulnerable and disadvantaged in the MENA Region.

The key objective of the Initiative is to improve the well-being children in the region through focused activities that increase local government capacity and knowledge of effective policies which can then improve the impact of selective interventions to address critical children's issues in the region.

It also aims at building a knowledge base of the main issues facing children in the region, through deriving and replicating lessons and best practices, both regionally and internationally. Moreover, the Initiative hopes to raise awareness and strengthen the capacities of municipalities and local authorities so as to enable them to adequately address such issues by granting access to youth and children.

In this way, the Initiative will also allow for the development of a child-friendly environment, whereby the infrastructure of parks, libraries and IT centers, amongst other facilities, will be up-graded.

During the event, attendees were presented with an overview of the policy document by GAM board member Samar Doudin.

An operational executive agency, with financial and administrative independence, known as Child Friendly City Executive Agency, was established so as to enable the framing of national childhood policies, in collaboration with the National Council for Family Affairs (NCFA) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).

Considered one of the pioneering cities in the region in terms of support for municipal childhood services, GAM, through its “Child Friendly City Executive Agency” will be the implementing arm for GAM's childhood policy.

The Executive Agency will work closely with the Childhood Committee which has been established as a City Council committee headed by the Mayor of Amman.

"This policy document", said Amman Mayor Nidal Hadid, "represents GAM’s commitment towards children’s welfare especially vulnerable and disadvantaged ones.”

Hadid also noted that, in October of this year, the Executive Agency will launch its action plan for the year 2006, in which a comprehensive child municipality budget will be announced to cover the expenses of the needed services, thereby allowing for GAM’s childhood policy to be achieved and for the building of strategic partnerships with governmental and non-governmental bodies, private sector, childhood experts and children.

GAM policy states that the municipality is committed to “supporting infrastructural projects and high quality programs and services that provide a supportive safe urban environment for children's play and for development of child culture, and to support projects that achieve child development, protection and participation, especially for vulnerable children in disadvantaged areas.”