Canada celebrates 2014 International Day of the Girl Child in Kinshasa

Testimonial from Ruth NSeke

Presentation of the Girl Summit Charter by the British Embassy’s Chargé d’Affaires to the Congolese Minister of Gender, Family Affairs and Children

To mark the 2014 International Day of the Girl Child, Canada organized a conference to advocate for improving the status of Congolese girls in collaboration with the Congolese Ministry of Gender, Family Affairs and Children, the UK Department for International Development and UNICEF. We were honoured to have the Congolese Minister of Gender, Family Affairs and Children preside over this ceremony. Many Congolese officials, members of government and of the diplomatic corps, and a number of members of parliament and senators were in attendance. The National Film Board of Canada film Des Marelles et des petites filles kicked off the event and was followed by several presentations.

The purpose of the event was not only to take stock of and reflect on the status of the girl child in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) through various presentations, but also to encourage and advocate with the Congolese authorities to continue to make the specific needs of Congolese girls a priority in their action plan. The embassy wanted to also underscore Canada’s commitment to promoting gender equality and combatting gender‑based violence.

One of the highlights of the event was without a doubt the testimonial given by Ruth Nseke. This adolescent girl explained how, through the non‑profit organization War Child, she was able to find a way off the streets. Through its project to support street girls, this organization helps adolescent girls get off the streets by fostering their economic empowerment.

The event was a success not only in terms of the diverse group of high‑profile attendees, but also because the attendance of the new Chargé d'Affaires at her first public event was reflective of the importance that Canada places on gender and girl child issues.

The official presentation of the London Girl Summit Charter (in which the DRC had not been represented) to the Congolese Minister of Gender, Family Affairs and Children was an important part of the event. The Minister undertook to submit it to the Minister of Foreign Affairs for signature.

The International Day of the Girl Child has been celebrated on October 11 every year since 2012, but this is the first time that Canada has marked this day in the DRC, thus highlighting the key role it played in the UN’s creation of this International Day.