Statement by Minister Paradis : Universal Children's Day

November 20, 2013

On Universal Children’s Day, Canada reaffirms its commitment to girls and boys all over the world who deserve to enjoy the full spectrum of rights to which they are entitled. These include being raised in an environment free of discrimination, violence, and exploitation, and having access to essential services they need to survive and thrive, including education, health, nutrition, and protection.

Violence in places such as Syria reminds us yet again that young people are especially vulnerable in situations of armed conflict and political unrest. Far too many children have been drawn into wars between adults, denying them their rights and causing their best interests to be forgotten.

Canada is committed to changing that. Through its Children and Youth Strategy, Canada has championed children’s rights and protection, including in fragile and conflict-affected states. We are supporting efforts to enable countries to develop child protection systems that ensure the safety and security of every girl and boy. We are also using our humanitarian assistance programming to meet the immediate needs of children affected by conflict situations through the provision of emergency food assistance, education, health care, access to safe water and sanitation, shelter, and protection.

Canada is also particularly concerned about the safety and security of girls and young women in developing countries. We are supporting safe and secure schools so that every child can learn and develop without fear of violence, exploitation, or abuse. And we have taken measures to protect and prevent violence against girls, including introducing a United Nations resolution to eliminate child, early, and forced marriages.

Canada’s leadership in children and youth also extends to women’s and children’s health. Through the Muskoka Initiative, Canada and its partners are working to improve maternal and child survival by helping to provide lifesaving interventions across the full continuum of care—from pre-pregnancy to pregnancy to childbirth to early childhood. It is expected that between 2010 and 2015 this initiative will help to save the lives of as many as 1.3 million children under the age of five.

Our government knows that children and youth are critically important to long-term, sustainable growth in developing countries. The issues young people face, and their overall well-being, must be central to our ongoing development efforts. That is why Canada is continuing to deliver on its commitment to improving maternal and child health, increasing access to quality education—for girls in particular—and providing safety and security for girls and boys, and young women and young men.

The Honourable Christian Paradis
Minister of International Development and Minister for La Francophonie