On this International Day Against the Use of Child Soldiers, otherwise known as Red Hand Day, we implore everyone to take a moment to reflect on the plight of children in conflict and push for global leaders to put preventative solutions into action to end this major human rights violation.
Dr. Shelly Whitman and General Dallaire have written a powerful op-ed piece in iPolitics. In this piece, the discussion acknowledges the need for prevention, before abuse ever takes place.
TORONTO (MARCH 3, 2020) – To mark International Women’s Day, The Slaight Family Foundation is donating $15 million to 15 international organizations working to improve human rights and opportunities for women and girls.
The recipient organizations – working mainly in impoverished, fragile or conflict-affected areas – each focus on different issues facing women and girls, including human rights abuses, child marriages, sex trafficking, legal support, HIV and AIDS and education.
“The aim of this gift is to improve conditions for women and girls living in difficult circumstances, who represent some of the world’s most vulnerable populations,” said Gary Slaight of The Slaight Family Foundation. “The projects we are funding will leverage the expertise of these vital organizations to protect women and girls in the most fragile countries from direct harm, rebuild the lives of those who have been unjustly affected by conflict, deprivation and disease and give them the tools and support they need to survive and thrive.”
“This investment in international NGOs is unprecedented and the projects being supported will directly assist more than one million women and girls in some of the world’s most fragile regions,” said Dr. Samantha Nutt, President of War Child Canada. “It’s such an important time to be highlighting this issue. For The Slaight Family Foundation to recognize the threats faced by women and girls, and acknowledge that their concerns matter with such an historic gift, is a profound message to send. On behalf of the entire group we extend our sincerest gratitude to The Slaight Family Foundation for their incredible support of our collective work.”
Since 2013, The Slaight Family Foundation has funded several strategic initiatives to multiple organizations. These initiatives started with gifts to five Toronto hospitals to support priority healthcare issues, followed by programs to address global humanitarianism, healthy development of children and youth across Canada, support for Indigenous issues and, last year, a seniors’ initiative to help keep seniors in their homes and communities, including the Allan Slaight Seniors’ Fund at the United Way Greater Toronto.
Sub-Saharan African countries with UN peacekeeping missions and high rates of HIV in women
Develop and roll out a smartphone app to tap young women’s unique knowledge of and solutions to living under the threat of sexual violence. Women in remote areas who answer open-ended, recorded questions orally, in private, as easily as leaving a voicemail message, will be transformed from victims with lived experiences to experts helping to end sexual violence against women.
Canadian Feed the Children
Creation of a new ‘Livelihood & Gender Equality Fund’ championing the human rights of girls and women in Ethiopia. We will focus on reducing the forced migration of girls and women by helping them finish their education and improve future prospects including starting new, sustainable businesses through an agribusiness hub to develop female entrepreneurship. The initiative includes a sexual and reproductive health and rights campaign, strengthening community police, legal and healthcare systems, and a new research study on child migration.
Canadian Red Cross
South Sudan/Central Africa Republic
The Canadian Red Cross is launching an innovative program that brings health solutions directly into crisis and conflict areas, reaching women and girls who are cut off from health facilities due to violence. Essential health care and supplies delivered by local Red Cross responders will increase safe pregnancies, improve nutrition, and provide access to clean water and lifesaving treatments for disease.
Innovate and improve menstrual hygiene management for school-age girls with female genital mutilation – develop and test new solutions with established women and girls’ groups, train women to produce hygiene products locally, improve school sanitation facilities and increase community awareness.
The program will increase access to gender-responsive heath services and launch a youth-led awareness campaign for sexual and reproductive health rights among adolescent girls and boys at risk of child trafficking, forced prostitution, child labour and sexual violence in Kedougou, Senegal.
Human Rights Watch
Middle East/N Africa
End discrimination of women and girls by documenting the abuses of male guardianship system in the Middle East and North Africa. Year 1 will focus on documenting male guardianship in Qatar; how lack of domestic violence legislation and discriminatory laws leaves women exposed to domestic violence in Kuwait; and the start of mapping how and where male guardianship exists in the region.
Partners In Health Canada
Malawi & Sierra Leone
Improved access to sexual and reproductive health services especially for adolescents, strengthened care for survivors of sexual and gender-based violence, and increased availability of high-quality obstetric care. Activities include health worker training, resourcing and delivery of clinical care, educational initiatives for young people, and community-based work to raise awareness about women’s and girls’ rights and promote health seeking behaviour.
Right To Play
Transform the lives of more than 50,000 girls across Mozambique through a gender-responsive education program that removes barriers to access, builds teacher capacity, and positively impacts national programs and policies. The result will be higher literacy rates, lower drop-out rates, and a generation of girls who are better supported to succeed.
Roméo Dallaire Child Soldiers Initiative
Helping reduce child soldier recruitment and conflict-based sexual violence through capacity building of national military and police forces, with a focus on female force members; enhance the Dallaire Initiative’s cadre of female international trainers and global champions; raise awareness amongst the global community on the critical role of women in preventing the recruitment and use of child soldiers.
Save the Children
Improve knowledge and skills of adolescent girls and boys to be aware of and exercise their rights around sexual and reproductive health and gender equality, to be able to make their own informed decisions related to marriage and pregnancy. This action will transform harmful practices and attitudes that reinforce gender inequalities and gender-based violence and strengthen the institutional and policy environment to prevent child early and forced marriage.
Stephen Lewis Foundation
Expand holistic programmes that address gender inequalities to improve access to HIV prevention services, and support treatment adherence for women and girls living with HIV. Expand the global grandmothers movement through Grandmother Gatherings. Empower grandmothers caring for children orphaned by AIDS to claim their human rights and lead their communities, through peer support, healthcare, skills training, economic empowerment and advocacy.
In Somalia, only 30 per cent of children attend primary school with girls accounting for less than half of the total enrollment. This project will focus on girls and children with disabilities to improve their access to early childhood education (ECE) services. Community based and alternative ECE programs will be established in rural areas and provide appropriate curriculum that caters to the children’s different needs. It will also include education for parents and communities so that they can better support their children’s education.
Empower women and girls to seek justice and tackle impunity within their communities by providing critical legal support for those affected by or at risk of gender-based violence; through targeted educational programming, ensure that girls can uphold their rights, have greater self-determination, and move out of poverty over the long-term.
Sierra Leone (Kono District)
Focus on advancing the rights of vulnerable women and girls by empowering them with the tools, support and skills to bring an end to inter-generational cycles of poverty and injustice. The three-part program will implement training to address human rights abuses and threats affecting them. Part one will deliver community-wide training to create greater awareness about women’s rights and human rights abuses. Part two will provide vulnerable women and girls education on their rights, referral support and life skills to increase their opportunities. Part three will offer the highest-risk women and girls vocational training and accelerated learning opportunities.
Implement the DREAM program – Dedicated to Reducing Early Marriage in Mali – to address the root cause of child marriage; will include sexual and reproductive health services, education and economic livelihood training; upgrading schools with girls washrooms, training parents, teachers, and faith leaders on the consequences of child marriage; train mothers and girls in financial literacy, life skills and income generating activities to increase household income.
HALIFAX, NS – On February 10th, The Roméo Dallaire Child Soldiers Initiative (Dallaire Initiative), in partnership with Dalhousie University’s Open Dialogue Series, is hosting a public discourse to mark the International Day against the Use of Child Soldiers.
The discussion will be moderated by award-winning CBC journalist, Nahlah Ayed, and feature two speakers who experienced and understand the impacts of war on children, Omar Khadr and celebrated author and human rights activist Ishmael Beah. The event will also feature the organization’s Founder, LGen the Hon. Roméo Dallaire (ret’d) and Executive Director, Dr. Shelly Whitman.
The event aims to nurture improved understanding of how children around the world are recruited and used by adults into conflict and violence. By examining the issue from multiple perspectives, the Dallaire Initiative hopes to provide deep and meaningful insights into how children are vulnerable to being recruited and used in violence, that takes many different forms, but ultimately have the same long-term and psycho-social impacts on the children and their communities.
“As the global organization at the forefront of preventing children from being recruited and used in conflict, we have an obligation to foster public dialogue on this issue, with the aim to break cycles of endemic violence around the world, and even here in Canada,” says Dr. Whitman. “We understand this is a highly complex issue, but one that deserves serious attention if we are to achieve peace and security. The Dallaire Initiative is proud to be able to continue to convene timely and critical discussions that bring together diverse groups here at our institutional home in Halifax – Dalhousie University.”
The discussion is part of Dalhousie University’s Open Dialogue series which brings the community together for thought-provoking conversations focused on timely and relevant topics. The series also supports the university’s vital role in sparking dialogue around important issues.
The event will also mark the Dallaire Initiative’s 10th anniversary at Dalhousie University. It will be hosted at the Rebecca Cohn Auditorium and recorded for possible use in an episode of CBC Ideas.
What: The Roméo Dallaire Child Soldiers Initiative in partnership with Dalhousie University’s Open Dialogue Series, public discourse with Omar Khadr, Ishmael Beah, and LGen the Hon. Roméo Dallaire
When: Monday, February 10, 2020. Registration starts at 5:30, doors open at 6, event 7-9
Where: Rebecca Cohn Auditorium, Dalhousie Arts Centre, 6101 University Ave, Halifax, NS B3H 4R2
Note: For security reasons, all coats will need to be checked and no large bags will be allowed into the auditorium.
We anticipate a high level of media interest in this event. There will be limited space for media.
All media-related inquiries in advance of this event will be solely handled by the Executive Director of the Dallaire Initiative, Dr. Shelly Whitman. Omar Khadr will not be speaking to the media.
- Media organizations wishing to attend the event must apply for accreditation by emailing: [email protected] with their name and media outlet.
- If accepted, media must present media and personal identification upon arrival to the media reception desk.
- There will be an area for media reserved in the Rebecca Cohn and media must remain in this area during the event.
- Photography, video and audio recordings of the event are not permitted.
Aimee White, Chief of Staff
The Roméo Dallaire Child Soldiers Initiative
About the Roméo Dallaire Child Soldiers Initiative
Founded by retired Lieutenant-General and celebrated humanitarian Roméo Dallaire, The Roméo Dallaire Child Soldiers Initiative is a global partnership committed to ending the recruitment and use of child soldiers worldwide, through ground-breaking research, advocacy, and security-sector training.