On Friday 17 April, a virtual conference for a number of children's rights organisations was held at The Queen's initiative in connection with the COVID-19 pandemic.
The participants included international and Swedish organisations and agencies from the network formed to mark the 20th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child in 2009. The network last met in 2016, in connection with the refugee crisis.
The aim of the virtual conference was to give participants an overview of the efforts being made to meet the specific needs of children and young people in view of the current circumstances.
The Queen began the conference with a brief welcoming address:
"The COVID-19 pandemic is resulting in many children facing greater vulnerability. I hope that today's meeting will give us a shared picture of what is being done to support and protect these children, and can also show us what needs to be done in future."
The conference was then led by Malin Dahlberg Markstedt from Save the Children Sweden.
The participants gave status reports from their respective organisations and described the consequences – and the potential consequences – of the pandemic for children and young people.
Many of them highlighted isolation, financial worries and more unsupervised time online as risk factors in terms of violence, sexual assault and mental and physical ill-health. This is particularly true in those cases where schools and other social contexts are no longer available – something that in itself has led to a clearly increased need for support and assistance from voluntary organisations.
All the participants shared the view that the risks are greatest of all for those children who already live in socially or economically vulnerable situations.
The meeting concluded with The Queen thanking the participants for their valuable contributions to the conference, and expressing her hope that the meeting could be a starting point for new cooperation:
"After our previous meeting, in connection with the refugee crisis, several new forms of cooperation began. Perhaps today's meeting has also inspired new ideas and collaborations? I certainly hope so – and I look forward to following the continuation of your important work."
The Royal Family are keen to show their support for the initiatives being carried out by society to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Royal Family are staying informed about how the pandemic is affecting Sweden via discussions, digital meetings and visits.
These visits are planned based on current recommendations, and every effort is being made not to take up time and resources unnecessarily.