Speech by Swedish Minister Åsa Regnér at the launch of the Global Partnership to End Violence Against Children, New York

Speech by Minister for Children, The Elderly and Gender Equality Åsa Regnér at the launch of the Global Partnership to end violence against children in New York, July 12th, 2016.

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A child is not only dependent on a parent, but also on a society

A child is not only dependent on a parent, but also on a society.

We – as adults, as political leaders, as teachers, as social workers or as experts – can all make a difference.

Investing in children and protecting children against violence, exploitation and abuse is one of my Government's priorities. Making the rights of the child a reality for every child is at the heart of our work. This is also why we want to incorporate the Convention on the Rights of Child into national law.

With the 2030 Agenda we have committed ourselves to ending poverty and hunger, combating inequalities within and among countries, building peaceful, just, and inclusive societies, protecting human rights, and promoting gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls.

The Swedish Government is preparing a national action plan to implement the goals and targets. All government ministers will be responsible for the implementation of the 2030 Agenda within their own areas of responsibility. Children's rights will be a key priority.

Across the world, including in Sweden, girls and boys face unacceptable levels of violence – physical, sexual and psychological. To end this violence against children we need a systematic and holistic approach in which children's development and protection is placed at the heart of cooperation, of policy development and of investments.

The Swedish Government therefore welcomes the explicit targets in Sustainable Development Goal 16.2 to eliminate all forms of violence against and exploitation of children.

The Global Partnership – a crucial platform for stepping up action, promoting an integrated approach and delivering results

The target to end violence against children – and to leave no child behind – can only be reached if we all take both our individual and our common responsibility.

We are convinced that the Global Partnership will be a crucial platform for national governments, civil society, academics, the private sector and international organisations. We need to learn from each other, support each other and step up efforts both globally and at home.

Sweden is proud to be one of the first Pathfinder countries within the Partnership. We are fully committed to cooperating and contributing.

We want to learn from and be inspired by others, as we develop and strengthen our work to end all forms of violence against children in Sweden.

As the first feminist government in the world, we have put the fight against inequalities and social exclusion at the centre of our work. This means, for example, working on gender budgeting and knowing the consequences for women and men, girls and boys of every budget proposal we put forward. National budgets, our financial resources, need to be used to get it right!

Achieving equality between women and men, implementing children's rights, leaving no one behind – this cannot be conducted as a project. We need an integrated and systematic approach.

Gender equality and sexual and reproductive health and rights are fundamental to reaching all of the development goals. As a feminist government, we also take a gender perspective when it comes to eliminating violence against children.

We need to take into account the situations, threats and needs that are specific to girls and boys, and in particular children with disabilities. The new national strategy – including new national goals for equal opportunities – that my Government will present this autumn will also be an important step in eliminating violence against children and in particular stopping children from having to witness violence.

Another experience we want to share is the important role played by local social services. I want to underline the contribution of social services for the protection of and the development of the child.

The Swedish Prime Minister, Stefan Löfven, gave himself as an example of the result of this support. I quote: "... if we work together to strengthen children's rights, supporting parents and building sustainable societies, the results are positive. I came to my family as a foster child, 10 months old. I had nothing. But through the work of loving parents and a supporting society I got it all."

Many children live in constant fear, many in situations of armed conflict. More women, men and children than ever are migrating. Women and girls face particular challenges. Unfortunately, it seems that child marriage in this context is on the rise. International cooperation, the sharing of responsibilities and of knowledge, is crucial.

Sexual violence and abuse against children is unacceptable in all settings and situations, also in conflict. Sweden is working actively to prevent these crimes also when committed by UN staff and personnel in UN peace keeping operations.

Sweden is taking a great responsibility for refugees and especially children in need of international protection. Last year, over 70 000 children arrived in Sweden, 36 000 of whom were unaccompanied. These children need protection, suitable accommodation, schooling and adult support. This is essential for both the individual child and society as a whole.

Our commitments as a Pathfinder country

As a Pathfinder country, we will undertake both strategic and immediate measures against the exploitation of and violence against children in three areas. Sweden's experience builds on both general welfare and specific actions.

1. Increasing knowledge on violence against children, including information developed especially for and by children

The Swedish Government will continue to increase its efforts to ensure that knowledge on violence against children is further developed and better communicated and spread to both professionals and children themselves. One important measure is therefore to set up and develop a new national knowledge centre, 'Barnafrid', ('Peace for children'), with the mission to collect and disseminate knowledge about violence and other abuse of children to professionals who meet children.

We have commissioned a new national study on the prevalence of corporal punishment, as well as attitudes on corporal punishment.

A third initiative is a new website, developed in cooperation with children by the National Board of Health and Welfare and the Children's Ombudsman, on what social services can offer children in need of assistance and protection.

Finally, the Swedish Crime Victim Compensation and Support Authority has just produced education material for teachers and children as victims. These are some actions, and the results need to be further spread and shared.

2. Developing and investing in the social protection system for children

The Swedish Government has taken several measures to strengthen the social protection system for children, both by improving skills and knowledge and by reinforcing staffing. This is about professional introductions for social workers, and training and money for municipalities to employ more social workers. A national coordinator for children's social services has been nominated and she will identify and then share best practices with our 290 Swedish municipalities. A national solutions conference will be held in August this year.

Developing and investing in the welfare state, not least in the protection of the most vulnerable children, is an investment in society and development for society as a whole, to come back to the words of the Swedish Prime Minister.

3. A roadmap to protect children from human trafficking, exploitation and sexual abuse

Finally, only a few weeks ago, the Swedish Government adopted a roadmap as a Pathfinder country: the Action Plan to protect children from human trafficking, exploitation and sexual abuse for the period 2016–2018. I have with me some copies of an English summary you can take with you.

The key goals of the proposed measures are:

No child is to be the victim of human trafficking.No child is to be the victim of sexual abuse or exploitation, either in Sweden or through travel and tourism.All child victims of human trafficking, sexual abuse or exploitation are to receive the protection and support they need.Promoting children's awareness of their right to protection and giving them knowledge to counteract their vulnerability.Enhancing the protection of children in situations in which they may be particularly vulnerable.

We will achieve these goals by increasing the efficiency and coordination of the government agencies concerned, developing the knowledge and skills in these areas, preventing and prosecuting crimes against children and, finally, giving children appropriate support when they need it. A systematic, integrated and inclusive approach.

To conclude

To end violence against children we – as political leaders, as adults, as teachers, as social workers or experts – can make a difference!

I am convinced that together in this new Partnership – and in close dialogue with children themselves – we will ensure that we have what it takes to finally eliminate violence against children. Only then can the 2030 Agenda be a reality for every child.

Thank you.