Queen Mathilde opened the International Eurochild Conference "Children Rights Matter: Why Europe Needs to Invest in Children" at the Palais des Académies in Brussels by pronouncing to opening speech in English.
"(...) There can be no doubt that the best investment in the future is to take the best possible care of the next generation.
This is also the approach I will adopt as UN special advocate for the promotion of the Sustainable Development Goals. Besides the protracted fight against poverty, education and health deserve the utmost attention, certainly where the young are concerned.
Let me give you just an example: if small children do not receive healthy nutrition, if girls do not receive adequate education, not only will their own development be hampered, but that of their entire society."
"(...) Parents, friends and family members play an essential role in the harmonious development of a child. Indeed it is there that affection and security can flourish best. But human failures, poverty, migration pressure, war and conflict tear families apart and deprive them of the necessary educational opportunities.
It is essential, therefore, that policy makers play their complementary and supporting role. First and foremost, by providing an efficient and relevant legal framework that guarantees respect of the rights of the child."
" (...) Isn’t that what it’s all about? That a child should feel accepted and recognised? That it feels at home in a generous environment where services – and therefore opportunities – are there for the taking. Where nobody is left behind. Where each individual is respected, as part of a rich and diverse society.
This is what gives a child a positive self-image. This is what makes it feel valued and loved. This is how vulnerability is transformed into self-esteem and self-confidence."
" (...) Every child, every young person should count, should be valued by others. Resilience and solidarity are important values that children can and should practise amongst themselves from their earliest years.
I wish you all stimulating and productive debates that will energise and inspire you in your endeavours.
I thank you."