Second Asia Regional Conference on Ending Violence Against Children During COVID-19 and Beyond

Ms. Maria Lucia Uribe, Executive Director, Arigatou International Geneva, was invited to speak at the Second Asia Regional Conference on Ending Violence Against Children During COVID-19 and beyond.

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The Conference was held from 1-5 November 2021 and organized by UNICEF, End Violence Partnership and World Health Organization. The five-day conference, organized in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, aimed to place ending violence against children high on the recovery agenda, while drawing on the framework of INSPIRE: seven strategies for ending violence against children developed by WHO, UNICEF and other partners to drive forward evidence-based action.

“As we near the end of 2021, we have identified many important lessons. One is the need to ensure that children are not left behind, and that violence prevention and response efforts are centred in COVID-19 response and recovery strategies,” said Dr Takeshi Kasai, WHO Regional Director for the Western Pacific.

Ms. Uribe took part in the session on “Engaging non-traditional partners in supporting scalable and sustainable parenting programs” to speak on the role of faith communities in up-taking and upscaling parenting programs.

Ms. Uribe spoke about the work of Arigatou International through its dialogue model that brings together religious leaders and actors, government organizations, academia, the health sector, and multilateral agencies. Through this model, stakeholders engage in reflections about the scientific evidence and theological principles on the impact of violence in child upbringing. It explores how to strengthen positive norms, challenge those that condone violence, and nurture children’s social, emotional, and spiritual well-being.

She highlighted the work of Arigatou International and its Global Network of Religions for Children (GNRC) during the pandemic with faith communities to support parents and caregivers and presented the materials developed during this time.

Ms. Uribe also shared about the work of the International Consortium on Nurturing Values and Spirituality in Early Childhood and the development of a toolkit on Nurturing the Spiritual Development of Children in the Early Years. The toolkit is meant for faith communities and faith-based organizations to support caregivers in promoting nurturing care and positive parenting practices through play, positive experiences, and safe and empowering environments. She shared that the toolkit will be launched in 2022, allowing its scale-up through the major faith-based organizations in the world and collaboration with international organizations such as UNICEF and many other partners.

The session was moderated by the Oak Foundation, with the participation of The Human Safety Net Foundation.

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