Prime Minister Stephen Harper Friday issued the following statement on the occasion of the second International Day of the Girl:
“On this special day, let us reaffirm our commitment to promoting the rights of girls in Canada and around the world, and reflect on the challenges and hardships that so many are unfortunately still facing today.
“Our Government recognizes that investing in girls’ health and education is essential to eliminating poverty, as well as creating healthy and sustainable communities.
“Here at home, we remain committed to making Canadian communities safer by protecting young girls. Our Government recently announced its intent to introduce amendments to the criminal code that will better protect children from a range of sexual offences and help to ensure that offenders receive tougher sentences. In addition, we are taking action to address cyberbullying.
“Internationally, Canada has taken a leadership role in promoting the health of women and children, as demonstrated by our 2010 G-8 Summit launch of the Muskoka Initiative on Maternal, Newborn and Child Health. Since then, we have taken decisive actions with a range of international stakeholders to achieve sustainable and meaningful results for mothers and children in developing countries, such as Haiti and Bangladesh.
“We are also committed to improving access to basic quality education for girls, and have achieved particular results in Afghanistan.
“I recently had the privilege of meeting with Malala Yousafzai in New York City. It is truly inspiring that someone so young has the courage and conviction to risk her life advocating for access to education for young women and girls in her country. Her actions are an important reminder of the need to continue promoting the rights and freedoms of women and girls on the world stage – values that we enjoy in our own country – and help to defend those values from organizations like the Taliban who seek to undermine them.
“Malala serves as an example for the international community as we continue to work towards improving the lives of girls through a number of initiatives, such as the United Nations Millennium Development Goals.”