In November, Arigatou International participated in the Geneva Peace Week by hosting a panel discussion “Enhancing Peacebuilding Initiatives with the Integration of Early Childhood Development Programs” that took place on 4 November 2019.
Panelists discussed the importance of early childhood for peacebuilding, the costs associated with the lack of investment and quality in early childhood programs for children and for societies; the influence of issues like displacement, conflict, inequalities and violence against children on early childhood outcomes and what can be done to address them.
The panel discussion had the participation of almost 60 people from government, academia, non-profit organizations, and civil society organizations. During the event, the panelists shared how early childhood development programs apart from supporting children’s nutritional, cognitive and language development, can also help to foster from the very early years, strong foundations for the development of children’s identities in inclusive ways; they can support children’s learning and appreciation of diversity; strengthen their resilience and spiritual development; capacities to solve problems using non-violent alternatives and stimulate children’s full development.
Particularly, the discussion highlighted how nurturing values and spirituality in the early years can contribute to foster a culture of peace, building trust, and positive relationships among diverse groups and especially building resilience in young children.
The panel also looked at the importance of supporting parents and caregivers, and the particular role and support to mothers; the need to provide a conducive environment for children, and working with religious leaders to challenge social and cultural norms that condone violence in early childhood.
Special thanks to the panelists: Ms. Valérie Bichelmeier, from Make Mothers Matter; Ms. Aleksandra Jovic, from UNICEF, and Dr. Bernadette Daelmans, from the World Health Organisation; as well as Mrs. Maria Lucia Uribe from Arigatou International, and the moderator Mr. Peter Prove, from the World Council of Churches, for their valuable contributions to the discussion.