The change was noticed this morning…

Eagle-eyed residents noticed a change in their phone network to ‘MAR15-ECD’ early this morning. Wondering what it stands for? ECD stands for ‘Emirati Children’s Day’ – a national occasion celebrated in the UAE on March 15 every year.

The day was first introduced in 2018 and was announced by Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak, Chairwoman of the General Women’s Union, President of the Supreme Council for Motherhood and Childhood, and Supreme Chairwoman of the Family Development Foundation. It raises awareness of children’s rights to a healthy, safe and supportive environment for their development.

The day was adopted to coincide with the approval of Child Protection Law 3, more commonly known as the Wadeema – named after a little Emirati girl who sadly suffered abuse in Sharjah in 2012.

According to The Official Portal of the UAE Government website, the law ‘stresses that all children must be provided with appropriate living standards, access to health services, education, equal opportunities in essential services and facilities without any kind of discrimination. The law protects children against all forms of negligence, exploitation, physical and psychological abuses.’

A number of initiatives have been launched including the ‘Child Protection Unit’ launched by Ministry of Education (MoE). The initiative aims to protect children from ‘all forms of harm, negligence and abuse which they may experience at school or home and maintaining their safety with regard to their physical, psychological and educational aspects.’

The Ministry of Interior also established the Higher Committee for Child Protection in 2009 and a Child Protection Centre in 2011 to aid in developing, implementing and customising initiatives that aim to provide safety, security and protection for all children living in the UAE or even those coming as visitors. The ministry stated that ‘achieving justice and protection for children is a shared responsibility.’

Any act of child abuse can be reported to the Ministry of Interior via 116 111, via the website and the ‘Hemayati’  (translates to ‘protect me’) app (available on Android and iOS).

Images: Getty Images