TORONTO and NEW YORK – Plan International Canada has high expectations for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s address to the United Nations General Assembly today, and is looking to see strong, feminist Canadian leadership in action on the international stage. The organization is urging Canada and other nations to prioritize girls and women in refugee crises.
“Today we are looking to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to demonstrate feminism in action,” said Caroline Riseboro, President and CEO of Plan International Canada. “He has announced his intention to be a feminist Prime Minister. Now we are eager to see that translated into a concerted effort on the ground to meet the needs and fulfill the rights of women and girls in the midst of the global refugee and migrant crises.”
Research shows that refugees who are children, especially girls, are extremely vulnerable during their often perilous journeys. They face risks at borders, in detention, waiting for status determination or settling into new surroundings.
Adolescent girls in particular face threats such as rape, sexual violence, gender-based violence and human trafficking, simply because they are young and female. Adolescent girls face unique challenges simply because they are too old to be children and too young to be women, often resulting in their needs being overlooked in humanitarian responses targeted at children and women.
Plan International Canada has recommendations for the way forward. A clear priority needs to be placed on their sexual and reproductive health rights. Refugee and migrant girls must have access to quality, safe and inclusive education. Being in classrooms can contribute to their protection from physical abuse, and their emotional wellbeing, besides improving their future opportunities. In addition, vulnerable groups such as unaccompanied girls, survivors of traumatic events, survivors of trafficking and forced prostitution, survivors of sexual violence and victims of torture or ill-treatment, and pregnant girls need specific support. Finally, Plan strongly advocates for youth refugees and migrants, including girls, boys, young women and young men, to be actively engaged in the decision-making processes.
“It is paramount that the approach to refugee crises be filtered through a feminist lens if we are going to reduce the threats and vulnerabilities that girls face,” added Riseboro. “Today, we are looking to the Prime Minister to make Canadians proud and place adolescent girls at the heart of the solutions to the refugee and migrant crises.” – CNW