Zain Group, a leading mobile telecom innovator in eight markets across the Middle East and Africa, recently announced its support of the agenda put forward by the Second Policy Dialogue and Sixth Regional Consultation for Middle East and North Africa Conference on Child Helplines in the Arab World; which recently convened at the Arab League headquarters in Cairo from 15 to 17 February. Zain Group was the only mobile operator who was invited and participated in the conference.
Held in collaboration with Child Helpline International (CHI), and falling under the United Nation's Global Goals for Sustainable Development, the Conference aimed to consider the plight of children from a regional perspective. The UN’s Global Goals for Sustainable Development are directly in line with Zain’s own outlook on the topic, with the series of 17 ambitious goals having been adopted by 193 world leaders at the United Nations last September. They are aimed at ending poverty, fighting inequality and injustice, and tackling climate change for all by 2030.
The Conference discussed mechanisms to develop and activate child helplines in light of the conflicts and regional instability that currently exists and considered how to develop emergency response mechanisms for the delivery of services to children and displaced people in refugee camps. Additionally, the Conference explored how ICT infrastructure could be leveraged to facilitate and support child helplines, while also encouraging member countries that do not have such facilities in place to introduce them.
“A society is judged by the manner in which it treats its most needy and vulnerable citizens. It is incumbent upon each one of us to protect the innocence of children for as long as possible, and it is an area that Zain takes very seriously, and feels strongly about continuing to contribute towards,” said Zain Group’s Head of Corporate Sustainability & Social Responsibility, Jennifer Suleiman.
Recent research results from CHI reveal that providing basic services to children can significantly accelerate the progress towards achieving the UN Global Goals for Sustainable Development, and the Consultative Conference saw the participation of representatives from child support organizations, CHI from across member states, representatives from regional and international children rights' organizations, and academicians and representatives of think tanks and private sector entities.
During the conference, Zain presented details of a number of child protection initiatives it had introduced aimed at supporting separated families across the Arab world and also highlighted the role ICT can play in helping displaced children. It also detailed how last year it undertook a multi-faceted media campaign to raise awareness about the ills of child abuse and shed light on this tragic topic.
Zain Group is already actively involved in anti-child abuse-related initiatives in partnership with the GSMA; dating back to February 2011 when Zain joined the GSMA Mobile Alliance against Child Sexual Abuse Content campaign.
In November 2014, Zain partnered with the GSMA’s agreement with Child Helpline International (CHI) to protect young people and safeguard their right to be heard. The GSMA and CHI jointly signed a Memorandum of Understanding that established a roadmap for promoting child helplines across the globe. The roadmap included measures to strengthen relationships between national mobile operators and their in-country helplines and foster collaboration on issues such as a safer Internet for children.
Zain has gone on to provide free access to child helplines in both Jordan and Saudi Arabia, with plans to launch the same in Sudan and Kuwait later this year.
Another area of concern highlighted is the lack of access to education facilities for displaced children, hence Zain has assisted in the provision of real opportunities for children separated from their families and homes to learn and develop in a protected environment.
Zain issued a call to action for more participants to adopt the ‘Free Our Voices’ campaign, which aims to support children's rights and protect them from all forms of violence and abuse.
The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) highlighted the protection of children on the Internet, which aims to identify the risks and create awareness and exchange knowledge, stressing the importance that majority of children having protection from dangers of internet by 2020.
Zain as an institution is committed to promoting sustainable development and is keen to align its business activities and strategy within the UN’s Global Goals for Sustainable Development at the forefront of its considerations and decision-making.