October 11, 2020 – Ottawa, Ontario – Global Affairs Canada

The Honourable Karina Gould, Minister of International Development, today issued the following statement:

“On the International Day of the Girl Child, we celebrate the power and promise of each and every girl born on this planet. This year’s theme—My Voice, Our Equal Future—reminds us that no matter where she is born, every girl deserves to thrive and be heard.

“Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, I have had the opportunity to hear from adolescent girls from the developing world. Through their clear and powerful voices, they shared how isolation and quarantine measures are making their lives even more difficult. They expressed concern about the increased risk of gender-based violence and harmful practices such as child, early and forced marriage.

“Girls are worried that school closures and disruptions in education are cutting them off from their support networks, depriving them of their education and impacting their nutrition, as well as their sexual and reproductive health and rights. Despite all this, within their communities and beyond, these girls are leading efforts toward positive social change to protect girls’ rights and achieve gender equality.

“This is why we support the health and rights of women and children with funding reaching $1.4 billion a year beginning in 2023. Through Canada’s Feminist International Assistance Policy, we support a comprehensive, integrated approach to adolescent girls’ empowerment that includes support for education and skills development, health and nutrition, advancing gender equality and addressing barriers, including sexual and gender-based violence; child, early and forced marriage; and early pregnancy.

“Since 2016, through support to the United Nations Population Fund-UNICEF Global Programme to End Child Marriage, almost 8 million girls 10 to 19 years old have participated in programs providing health information, life skills, economic empowerment and social protection.

“Canada envisions a world where adolescent girls are valued and empowered, have control over their own lives, fully participate in decisions that affect them in their homes and societies, and contribute to and benefit from development and prosperity.

“We cannot forget that gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls in all their diversity is essential to achieving each of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals and promoting the human rights of every girl.”

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