The First Lady, Jeannette Kagame, yesterday, urged global action on violence against children anywhere in the world.
She was speaking during a United Nations high-level meeting on ‘Children and the Sustainable Development Goals: Giving every child a chance’ at the UN headquarters in New York.
The UN General Assembly side event was sponsored by the Permanent Mission of Sweden to the United Nations and the World Childhood Foundation US, in collaboration with Mentor International.
It was meant to discuss new opportunities that the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) framework brings to improving millions of children’s lives.
Mrs Kagame pointed to figures showing that among adolescent boys in low and middle-income countries, at least one out of four boys has been a victim of physical violence since the age of 15.
She also pointed out that about one out of 10 girls in the world has been subjected to some form of forced sexual acts, before the age of 20.
The First Lady described as appalling the numbers of abused and exploited children worldwide.
“These figures should be a wake-up call for all of us, especially when considering that the perpetrators may include friends, parents, and teachers, reminding us that often, those who pose the most dangers to our children are not always strangers, but can be the people entrusted with their care,” she said.
The event featured Her Majesty Queen Silvia of Sweden; Irina Bokova, the director-general of UNESCO; Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Kailash Satyarthi; and Hans Vestberg, the chief executive of Ericsson.
Other delegates were drawn from UN leadership, governments, civil society, academia and the private sector.
The meeting sought to mobilise action for children using the SDGs’ framework and make the SDG 16.2: End abuse, exploitation, trafficking and all forms of violence against and torture of children everybody’s priority.
“We are here today because of our most precious little humans,” Mrs Kagame said.
Reflecting on Rwanda’s experience, where hundreds of thousands of orphans were inherited after the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, the First Lady noted that humanity is defined by the way it treats the most vulnerable in communities.
Today, about one third of orphanages in Rwanda have reintegrated children in family homes, while over 3,000 street children have been rescued, rehabilitated, given vocational training, and reintegrated into society, she told the audience.
Mrs Kagame also spoke about Rwanda’s integrated approach which led to the establishment of the Isange One Stop Centres across the country, where victims of sexual violence can seek free services, ranging from medical treatment, psychological and legal counseling to preliminary criminal investigation.
She called on everyone to ensure that the world reaches the sustainable development goal of “ending abuse, exploitation, trafficking and all forms of violence against and torture of children.”
“In the case of Rwanda, we have been able to achieve many and sometimes surpass the Millennium Development Goals (2000-2015) with limited resources. We have every intention of doing the same with the Sustainable Development Goals, especially when it comes to the protection and safety of our children. Children embody the best part of who we are.”
The SDGs, also known as the Global Goals, are set to be launched during the UN General Assembly in New York today.