Today on National Child Protection Day in Azerbaijan and on the UN Day of Parents, UNICEF is launching the first global Parenting Month with a focus on the importance of early childhood development, Report was told by UNICEF office.
Under the theme of “It’s About Time”, UNICEF offices around the world and their partners are raising awareness of the impact on babies’ and young children’s brain development of good nutrition, stimulation and a protective environment in the earliest years of life. UNICEF is also urging more support for parents, through investment in family-friendly policies and more provision of practical advice and guidance on early childhood development.
In Azerbaijan, UNICEF is undertaking a social media campaign - #Atabala Challenge – to highlight the important role that fathers play in the development of their children. As part of the challenge, several personalities are sharing their personal stories of fatherhood on social media, encouraging other fathers to take part and spread the word on how fathers can help in the early development of their young children.
“The earliest years of a child’s life are those when their brains development most rapidly, and when there is unique opportunity to maximise their learning skills, their emotional development and their social behaviours,” said UNICEF Representative to Azerbaijan, Edward Carwardine. “Providing children with the best possible start to life relies on creating every chance to stimulate their cognitive skills, their sense of exploration and discovery, as well as their health and nutrition – and parents, and others who care for young children, have an essential role to play.”
Effective early childhood development requires several key elements from which children should benefit in the first 1,000 days of their lives, says UNICEF. These include: good nutrition, responsive care and protection form all forms of violence or harm.
Enabling parents and others who care for children to provide these inputs requires sufficient time to spend with children – however, a lack of investment in family-friendly policies in some countries means that many parents struggle to balance work and other commitments with the most formative time in their children’s lives.
“As we celebrate childhood today and reaffirm the important place children hold in our lives and our hearts, it’s time to make time for children – that means providing parents and others with practical guidance on how support their child’s early development and to put in place specific family-friendly measures such as respecting mandatory maternity leave, introducing paternity leave, creating flexible working arrangements so mothers can breastfeed new-borns or benefit from childcare facilities in their workplace,” said Carwardine.