Canada launches children and youth strategy

In a speech on Universal Children’s Day last Friday, Canadian Development Minister Bev Oda unveiled CIDA’s new “children and youth strategy.” Along with increasing food security and stimulating economic growth, in May Oda announced that securing the future of children would be one of CIDA’s priority themes and a key focus for Canadian development assistance moving forward.

Within this broad goal, Minister Oda highlighted three main areas of focus for CIDA: child survival (including maternal health), access to quality education (particularly for girls), and child safety and security.

Under the bucket of child survival, Oda announced a that Canada would commit $150 million over 5 years for the Micronutrient Initiative, an international non-profit organization that provides women and children with essential vitamins and minerals. She also said that Canada plans to build on recent successes in expanding access to life-saving vaccines, especially in Africa, and that Canada will contribute up to $2.4 million to a three-year program with the Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids), Toronto, and SickKids Foundation to help train pediatric nurses in Ghana.

Oda also said that Canada will continue its leadership in the area of global education, making quality and access for girls a particular priority. She announced a 5-year, $60 million commitment to the Education for All- Fast Track Initiative, which will go towards countries’ national education plans and supporting capacity-building to help countries improve their education policy, planning and management, including reporting on results. She also said that Canada was committed to continuing its support of education programs in fragile states and said that CIDA will help to build and maintain safe learning environments in countries in conflict and transition.

Finally, in the area of child security, Oda said that CIDA would help its partners build public sector capacity in areas that will strengthen child protection (such as birth registration to ensure legal status and access to health and education services) and rehabilitating young men and women who were victims of the sex trades.

Oda’s speech follows the unveiling of Canada’s food security strategy nearly a month ago on World Food Day. As Canada gets ready to assume the G8 presidency in January 2010, we look forward to learning more about these priorities as well as Canada’s plans as host of the 2010 G8 and beyond 2010, its objectives for a post-Gleneagles partnership with Africa.

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