Universal Children's Day

November 20, 2012 16:42 ET

Minister Fantino's Message for Universal Children's Day

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Nov. 20, 2012) - Children in developing countries are just like children in Canada. They want to learn and play. They hope to do something important when they grow up. Yet, nearly 7 million children still die before their fifth birthday from preventable diseases like pneumonia, diarrhea, malaria, and measles.

Children are capable of great things when they grow up in the right conditions: with enough food and water for a healthy start to life, with equal opportunities to learn, and with freedom from the threats of violence and exploitation that no boy or girl should ever have to face. Children are our future.

To survive and thrive, children need guidance. They need an education. They need the chance to develop their abilities in order to take full advantage of their potential. They need to be healthy, safe, and secure.

Canada has a long history of helping children in developing countries. Canada's goal is to keep mothers and children healthy; improve children's access to quality education; and protect them from violence, abuse, and exploitation. We are also putting a particular focus on the challenges of girls in each of these priority areas.

The health of a child begins with the health of its mother. That is why the Prime Minister launched the Maternal, Newborn and Child Health initiative [http://www.acdi-cida.gc.ca/acdi-cida/ACDI-CIDA.nsf/eng/FRA-127113657-MH7] at the 2010 G-8 Summit. World leaders agreed to work together to prevent the deaths of 64,000 mothers and 1.3 million children under five. Our government is focusing on giving mothers and children what they need most: improved nutrition, stronger health systems, access to quality obstetric care, and better health care in general.

We know that health has an impact on a child's ability to learn, but we also understand that education provides children and youth with the knowledge and tools they need to become healthy, productive adults. Canada believes that every boy and girl deserves to go to school and learn free from threats of violence or exploitation. We work with local governments to strengthen their national education systems so they can plan for their future and ensure that children are receiving a quality education.

Investing in children and youth is one of the best investments we can make.

The benefits of healthy, educated, and productive children to society are wide-ranging and long-term. This is not just for today's generation, it is also for tomorrow's, which will carry on the work of building more robust and resilient societies and economies around the world.

Julian Fantino

Minister of International Cooperation

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