Mrs Executive Director,
Ladies and gentlemen,
It is a great honour and a pleasure to be here today to receive The Health and Human Rights Award.
I feel very privileged and proud to accept this prestigious award because it recognizes my desire to protect and help those who are often ignored and forgotten in our world. I feel privileged to be in a position where I can make my voice heard and I feel proud of what has been accomplished, but I am also humbled to see so many organizations, like your own, and so many individuals, doing such a heroic and inspirational job in making this world a better place.
It all started back in 1994 when I founded Mentor. With teenage children of my own, I saw what a great need children and young people have for adults to get involved in them and their activities. Research also shows that the main preventive factor when it comes to violence and drug-taking among young people is good relationships with adults. Parents are the most important role models for children and young people.
Mentor´s parent-focused activities aim to support adults in their role as parents so that they can give children aged 6-18 the strength to resist violence and drugs.
It can be hard being young and navigating one´s way safely through what can at times be turbulent years. This is when it is important to have plenty of good, clear role models. In Sweden, Mentor also uses a successful model whereby employees at companies, during working hours, and other adult volunteers act as mentors for a period of one year to school children who need adult support. These volunteers undergo compulsory training and receive continuous guidance from Mentor in their capacity as role models.
Another group of people who often lack the support they need is dementia sufferers and their families. Through my own personal experience of my mother suffering from dementia, I experienced the difficulties involved in caring for someone with dementia. I started to discuss the need for relevant training for nursing staff with a Professor, which is how the idea of training assistant nurses to become Silvia Sisters first came about. Day-care was also linked to this training. The Silviahemmet Foundation was thereby established, and the first assistant nurses began their training in 1996.
The 210th Silvia Sister qualified last year, having completed a two-year 60-credit online training course. The Sophiahemmet University College is responsible for providing the training, and offers expert knowledge. A one-year 30-credit Silvia Nurse on-line training course was also launched a year ago, with work experience at Silviahemmet.
Just over twelve years ago in 1999, I decided to start the World Childhood Foundation. In my many travels around the world, I often see what a great need there is to improve conditions for children. It is hard to meet these children and not be able to help them. It was through this desire to help children that the idea for Childhood came about.
Childhood works around the world to improve living conditions for children in vulnerable situations. The main aim is to help street children and young mothers, as well as tackling sexual abuse and exploitation, including the trafficking of children for sexual purposes. Sexual violence against children takes many different forms: assaults by family members or other trusted individuals, assaults at institutions and children´s homes, child pornography, child prostitution and trafficking. This is a growing problem worldwide, with traumatic consequences for the children involved.
Today, Childhood supports more than a hundred projects in many different countries, including Brazil, China, Russia, Sweden, South Africa, Thailand, Germany, Ukraine and the USA. Through Childhood´s projects around the world, I hope that awareness of these issues will increase. We adults have a responsibility to let children be children. Every child has a right to a childhood.
I am deeply grateful for all the good intentions and all the hard work I have seen evidence of over the years. Many people have contributed through their dedication and their excellent efforts, and they too should feel a sense of pride and pleasure in connection with this award.
Once again, thank you very much.