First Ladies to the fore

PUTRAJAYA: There is no greater cause to champion than that of children and no better group to take the task of teaching, moulding and creating the leaders of tomorrow than the First Ladies of the world, Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said.

“When First Ladies speak for the cause of children or the less fortunate, public attention is drawn to those problems.

“And, more often than not, various parties are galvanized to act to resolve them and provide assistance,” the Prime Minister said when opening the inaugural First Ladies Summit here last night.

Fourteen First Ladies and representatives of 28 nations are attending the three-day summit, themed A Child Today, A Leader Tomorrow.

Najib said because of their unique position in society, First Ladies could effect real and tangible change in the causes that they championed.

“I am supportive of the idea to hold the summit because I have always been a great believer in co-operation and collaboration.

“I know many people think that when a bunch of wives get together, it could be trouble for their husbands when the meeting is over.

“I think, this time, it’s a bit different because husbands are not the topic of conversation.

“These remarkable ladies are here for something that is important for all mankind; to discuss ways of teaching and creating the leaders of tomorrow,” the Prime Minister said.

Najib said while the summit would discuss topics concerning childhood education and care as well as challenges faced in ensuring children were given a fair chance in getting nutrition, affection and protection, attention should also be given to the areas of informal education and the shaping of world views.

He said a child’s view could be affected by things he did not learn from books or in classrooms but through observing things said and done by parents.

“We must look into this with some depth if we are to examine the best ways of creating moderate, sensible leaders of tomorrow, free from prejudice and bigotry,” he said.

In her speech, Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor said that while the United Nations and its agencies played their role in fighting for the cause of children, each country must accept that the problem was their own and no one else’s.

“We cannot simply turn a blind eye and hope somebody else will come and resolve the issues occurring in our own backyard,” the Prime Minister’s wife said.

“The time for us to act is now and we must do so collectively and decisively. What is at stake is nothing less than our future and the future of our respective countries.”

Conceding the absence of First Ladies from developed nations, Rosmah said the sharing of experiences could have been more enriching and stimulating if they were present.

“Nevertheless, despite their absence, we can still move forward without despair.

“We can still form a resounding unified voice.

“A voice that may yet reverberate in the corridors of power, echoing the all-important cause of protecting and advancing the interest of the future generation,” she said.

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