AmCham Kuwait, in conjunction with UNICEF, AmCham Oman, and AmCham Lebanon, and in collaboration with the British Business Forum, the Canadians in Kuwait, the Lebanese Business Council, and the Portuguese Business Council, hosted a webinar addressing the critical importance of family-friendly policies in both private and public sector in the Arab Gulf region. The event, held virtually, gathered experts, policymakers, and thought leaders to explore and discuss multifaceted approaches to support working families. The event served as a platform for key discussions and insights from prominent speakers, including Walid Abou Jaoude, Erika Strand, and Christopher Kip, all from UNICEF.
The webinar commenced with an enlightening presentation by Walid Abou Jaoude, shedding light on UNICEF’s overarching mandate to champion the rights of children at all stages of development. Emphasizing UNICEF’s strategic goals, he outlined the organization’s commitment to protecting children from violence, ensured access to education, social protection, creation of a safe environment, and promotion of children’s overall well-being, as he highlighted the framework of engagement and collaboration with the private sector to better support children through different channels, via advocacy, resource and financial mobilization along with other means that are reflected fronts such as parental policies at work and other means that further children friendly outcomes .
Further, the discussion delved into UNICEF’s critical role in addressing emergencies, climate change actions, and innovative solutions to improve the lives of children globally.
Erika Strand, in her presentation, focused on the cascading impacts of the COVID-19 crisis on families and children. Presenting new evidence on child development, she highlighted core capacities whose timely development is essential for cognitive, mental, and physical health. Strand also spoke about the forthcoming research on family-friendly policies that UNICEF will present in 2024. The study that will provide more detailed descriptions of the policies governments have already put int place in Gulf countries, as well as remaining gaps.
Finally, Christopher Kip concluded the session by emphasizing the significance of family-friendly policies that can be undertaken in the workplace. Defined as measures balancing family and work life, Kip urged for inclusive and gender-sensitive policies, linking working conditions for parents to the health, well-being, and development of their children. He outlined key asks and actions for governments and businesses, including paid parental leave, support for breastfeeding, affordable, quality childcare, and adequate wages and child benefits.
The collaborative effort between AmCham Kuwait, and UNICEF reflects a shared commitment to creating supportive environments for working families, with the ultimate goal of maximizing children’s potential and fostering social and economic development.