Statement by Minister Paradis: International Youth Day 2013

August 12, 2013

Today's generation of children and youth is the largest in history: nearly half of the world's 7.1 billion people are under the age of 25. More than 90 percent of these young people live in the developing world, where many of them face huge challenges. Some have no education. Others have difficulty finding a job. Many are at risk of violence, exploitation, and abuse.

International Youth Day is about shedding light on these and other issues. It is also about joining efforts to help young people all over the world overcome the difficulties they face so that as they grow older they can become self-sufficient and make positive contributions to their communities.

Young Canadians have the power to make a difference. Consider Alaina Podmorow, for example. In 2007, after learning of the human rights violations that had befallen young Afghan girls of her age, Alaina started Little Women for Little Women in Afghanistan. The organization now has branches across Canada and the United States, and $375,000 has been raised to help Afghan girls.

Such an incredible development initiative is a reflection of the Canadian values that define us both at home and abroad. Our commitment to freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law makes Canada one of the best countries in the world and frequently one of the first to engage in development activities in the developing world. This is as true of the Government of Canada as it is of our citizens.

Together, we can help reduce poverty, keep people healthy, and give all young people in all parts of the world hope for the future. With the right care and development, they can become active and productive young women and men who can help their communities move from poverty to prosperity.

As Canadians, we are ideally placed to help them get there. So on International Youth Day, I invite everyone—including our own children and youth—to learn more about the developing world and to join the global effort to improve lives abroad.

Christian Paradis
Minister of International Development