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Members of Congress
Ladies and gentlemen,
It is a great pleasure to be here today, to speak in the presence of so many dedicated people and to recognize the great gains the World has made to ensure that more children survive their first few years of life.
As we all know, the Millennium Development Goals placed significant focus on the specific issues of child mortality and child survival. This is very commendable, and I applaud the tremendous results that we as a global community have been able to achieve in this area.
These results would not have been possible without the leadership of the United States. The United States has, in a powerful way, put its weight and resources behind a universal commitment for the benefit of our most vulnerable people – our children.
The US Congress has shown a passionate commitment to this cause over the past 25 years, and the number of child deaths prior to the age of five has been reduced by more than half. What an incredible feat! I am also proud to say Sweden is allied with the United States on these issues. Child and maternal health, as well as protection and rights of children are fundamental priorities for Swedish government.
But despite all that we have achieved, I believe that we can do better.
No child should die before their 5th birthday due to a lack of basic healthcare or sanitation. And this event demonstrates our commitment to building a reality where children can survive, but survival alone is not enough... Almost 20 years ago I met a young boy in a shantytown in Brazil, a "Favela." He very proudly showed me his home: a shabby brown box barely large enough for him to sleep in, let alone house his belongings. But the box was his "comfort zone" - a place in which he could feel safe.
While flying back home I could not stop thinking of that boy. A powerful tropical storm pelted down, playing with the plane as though it was a feather. But what was happening to his brown paper box? To his shelter…..to his safety? Who was protecting him?
It was at that very moment that I decided to do what I could to protect children, to work for the prevention against the sexual abuse of children and to help them believe that there is a future for them! World Childhood Foundation! Protection through prevention!
It is time we realize that we must also work together to make certain that children also have the opportunity to thrive – to experience a childhood free from abuse and exploitation. We must work together to ensure that children all around the world have a voice, that they have rights, that their needs for physical and emotional security are met.
We must work together to ensure that children all around the world have a chance to have a happy childhood and can reach their full development potential, that they have access to education, and ultimately the opportunity to make their dreams a reality.
We should be proud of how much we have achieved to date. But as we celebrate, we should recognize the long road ahead. All children deserve a happy childhood. And I believe that, together, we can make sure they experience this. I hope that we can use todays' occasion of celebration, gratitude and recommitment to make sure that all children not only survive but also thrive.
I look forward to joining you again when we can celebrate the achievement of having all children survive their first years of life, as well as the global community's investments in ensuring happy, safe and healthy childhood beyond that 5th Birthday.