2012-10-05

H.M. Drottningens tal vid seminariet "Protecting and Supporting the World's Women and Children", Gustavus Adolphus College, USA, 5 oktober 2012

(Det talade ordet gäller)

Members of the Gustavus Adolphus Board of Trustees
Fellow panel members
Mrs. Ohle
Gathered friends

Thank you for the opportunity to respond to the presentations we have heard.

First, I want to thank the presenters and the seminar moderator. I am so pleased with the large attendance for this important discussion. I did not expect that the Chapel would be so full.  It is certainly an appropriate venue for this discussion.

His Majesty and I are pleased to be a part of this 150th anniversary celebration of the College. As we have been on campus today, it is clear to me that this is a special place. Your students are engaged, excited, and strike me as the kind of leaders prepared to lead the world in the coming years.

Having enjoyed this seminar and learning the many important activities you are committed to, I am impressed by the values that Gustavus and its graduates have, and that you share with the many activities we do through the World Childhood Foundation.

I started World Childhood Foundation nearly 13 years ago with the mission to help vulnerable children, targeting street children, children living in alternative care, families at risk, and children who are victims of abuse.

Since its founding, the Childhood Foundation has worked diligently with prevention and intervention models to help children all around the world, and raise awareness about abuse and exploitation of children.

Today, we find more people responding to children's issues, and also wanting to help prevent the harm that is still done to so many children.

From the beginning, we focused on girls and young mothers, and on children who have been, or are at risk, for sexual abuse and exploitation. Also from the start, Childhood Foundation focused also on small projects, helping local organizations that worked closely with the children, seeing them in their environments, and step by step, supporting new initiatives to make sure that children were given a chance of a better life. 

To do this, we searched for what we call fire souls, individuals who dedicated their lives to make sure that there was someone who cared for an abandoned or abused child wherever they were, or whatever they needed.

I have found these fire souls in many places around the world.

In Ukraine, The Way Home Charity Foundation works on the streets of Odessa, building trust and relationships and, thereby, providing an alternative to the street by offering education, shelter, and care.

In Lavender Hill in South Africa, a country where close to half of all rape victims are children, a woman is providing shelter to girls and women who have been sexually assaulted and need a place to hide.

In Russia I remember Babushka Brigade...

In Minneapolis/St. John The Bridge works with both parents and youth, helping them resolve family conflicts and rediscover their common ground. The Bridge helps young people reconnect with their families, schools and communities; it strengthens families and helps prevent youth homelessness.

In New York Chances for Children in collaboration with Highbridge Community Life Center provides mental health support and services for young families and children in Highbridge, a poorly serviced, high-risk neighborhood in the Bronx.

The Family Advocacy Program, part of the Children's Advocacy Centers, a nationwide network of treatment centers for children who have been sexually abused and traumatized.

Inwood House provides services for teenage parents and young people in New York City in areas where they need special support.

Northside Center for Child Development is serving children and families in Harlem.
Peer Health Exchange train college student volunteers to teach a comprehensive health curriculum in public high schools that lack health education.

In Florida Children's Harbor provides a comprehensive direct service model to children in need.

Kristi House's Child Advocacy Center provides intervention and rehabilitation services for children and youth who have been rescued from being involved in the commercial sexual exploitation of children.
 
During its 13 years of existence, Childhood Sweden, Germany, Brazil and US have supported over 600 projects around the world. This year we entered Cambodia and are present in 15 countries supporting over 100 projects.
  
His Majesty is very much involved in scouting, a true fire soul, a super scout and I feel how important children's rights are. Children are our past, our present and our future. All children have rights, everywhere and at all times. And all children's rights are equally important and interrelated. They are closely linked to social structures and access to education. Phenomena linked to children's rights are; human trafficking, crisis situations as a result of war, unrest or natural disasters, children in armed conflict and child soldiers, drug-trafficking, prostitution and sex tourism or street children.

In January 2010 together with my family — the King of Sweden, the Crown Princess Couple, Prince Carl Philip and Princess Madeleine — we initiated the World Child & Youth Forum.

The aim of the World Child & Youth Forum is to create a forum that raises awareness of the UN Convention on the rights of the child and to help inspire more people to take initiative.

The more of us there are working for a common goal, the stronger we become. I therefore hope we can utilize the World Child & Youth Forum for inspiring dialogues on how to raise awareness and how to implement the Children's Rights.

And, today, I believe I have found some more fire souls at Gustavus Adolphus College, and I could not be more pleased. 

Partnerships across the world of like-minded individuals form a tide of justice that will roll across the world — it is a powerful force for good.

I commend you for what you are doing. I look forward to following the impact you will have on the world. Please keep the fires burning. Your commitment to social justice is exactly what is needed if we are going to lead this world forward to what we imagine it can be.

Thank you.