Session: Gender and Youth Issues
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The moderator for the session, Mr Mohit Saraswat, Founder for the Internet Society Chapter in the UAE addressed this session as ‘Our Session’ due to a large gathering of students and parents within the room. He highlighted the importance of collaboration in this space, further mentioning that the children are the most important stakeholder for this discussion, but are often ignored and considered as naïve. He mentioned a quote from Sheikh Zayed, President and Founder of the UAE, highlighting the importance of children in nation building ‘The real wealth of the country is made up of its children, as they are our future generation. It is this which constitute the real treasure for the nation’.
Dr Hamed Mohamed Al Neyadi, the CEO of E-safe society operating in the child online protection space within the UAE, highlighted the importance of collaboration due to the fact that the Internet is not restricted to a geographic boundary. The biggest challenge he mentioned within this sphere is to enable children and the youth to handle the threats that the Internet has to offer. He emphasised the importance of a nationwide education and awareness campaign that his organisation is currently undertaking, addressing the need of more than 200,000 students within the UAE.
Head of the AQDAR foundation in the UAE, Colonel Dr Ibrahim Al Debal, presented a holistic approach of child empowerment that the UAE government is currently enterprising. The approach was presented to ensure that a child is guided, coached and protected during the entire lifecycle of his/her birth until graduation and family inclusion. He mentioned that the program is a joint collaboration of around 30 government and private entities within the UAE, that includes the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Interior, NGOs such as Esafe society and the Internet Society etc.
Ms Clara Sommarin, Child Protection Specialist, Exploitation and Violence from UNICEF presented the programs collaborated by UNICEF along with other stakeholder’s such as ITU, IWF, GSMA and others. She mentioned that the outcome document and organisation such as A guide for Governance and Family Online Safety Institute are true examples of how collaboration has delivered great value and outcomes. However, she did mention that the collaborations effort is often plagued by various challenges such as miscommunication between the partners, lack of quantitative and qualitative research.
Managing Director of German Center for Child protection on the Internet, Ms Jutta Croll, highlighted the challenges they face in the collaboration space due to varying and often contradicting legal regulations on child protection within various countries in which they operate. She presented an example when a content depicting erotic poses from children can be considered illegal in Germany and still be legal in other parts of the world.
Ms Susie Hargreaves, CEO of the Internet Watch foundation, emphasised the use of innovative technologies such as PhotoDNA, Hashing and URL listing to take down illegal content from the internet. She mentioned that the relationship that IWF has with other partners such as Twitter, facebook, Google, Micorosft and Yahoo is complementary in nature and has to be respected to ensure that the approach becomes more proactive and effective.
Mr David Ng Ki Chun from the Dot kid foundation, stressed on the use of innovative engagement methods such as short videos and peer presentation to engage the kids in this discussion.
by Mohit Sarawsat, Internet Society UAE