Statement by Federal Minister Spiegel presented at the 60th Committee on Social Development Debate, 11 February 2022

11.02.2022 - Speech

Federal Minister for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, and Women and Youth Anne Spiegel delivered a video message to the Committee on Social Development, followed by two statements from the Permanent Mission Youth Delegates, Franka Weckner and Ruszlan Biwoino.

The global pandemic situation has made one thing very clear: This is a global situation and we can only fight against COVID-19 globally. Because this virus does not stop at borders.

And the same is true for our recovery from the pandemic situation: it must not stop at borders. In our globalised world, we can only defeat the virus with multilateral cooperation and international solidarity.

To end the pandemic, it is important that we focus on the needs of the most vulnerable groups of society.

Children and young people have not only missed many days at school and other education facilities, they have also missed out on contact with their peer groups, socialising and talking as part of a group. They experience and suffer from loneliness.

Young people are not just our future and the majority in many countries, they are also key, vital actors for peace, social justice and social development that need to be taken seriously and heard. It is the young generation that matters.

We need to move beyond tokenism and ensure their meaningful participation – in all their diversity and creativity.

In order to help children and young people make up lost ground the German Government launched a two-billion-euro action programme, in May 2021 in particular to help children catch up with schooling lost during the pandemic to step up early childhood education and to foster holiday activity programmes and extra-curricular activities with the goal to help the stressed families all over Germany.

Moreover, the German Government agreed on a basic child allowance that will help improve benefits and services and shall reach as many children as possible, whoever needs support.

Healthy and sustainable school meals can fight hunger and poverty, secure health and well-being, promote learning, and create equal social opportunities for boys and girls. Germany has declared its willingness to support the School Meals Coalition that emerged from the UN Food Systems Summit (UN FSS) to improve school meals programmes worldwide.

Also, we have zero tolerance towards child and forced labour. The complete elimination of child and forced labour is a very important goal.

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing (MIPAA). Let us use it to overcome the severe effects of the COVID-19 Pandemic situation also on older persons

I am pleased that the Open-Ended Working Group on Ageing will focus on older people contributions to sustainable development and on economic security.

Intergenerational solidarity is very important and it goes hand in hand with gender equality. COVID-19 increased unfortunately the unequal distribution of unpaid care work, including childcare, adult care and household chores, between women and men.

Paid work is the prerequisite for economic independence of every person. We will also use our G7 Presidency to work for equal pay for equal work, including pay transparency, and a fair valuation and distribution of paid work and unpaid care work between men and women.

The post-COVID-19 world will require more solidarity and cooperation to meet the promise of the 2030 Agenda. Germany is committed to doing its share.

It is my pleasure to have both our German youth delegates among the members of my delegation and I happily hand over to Franka and Ruszlan, who will speak on their own behalf.

Youth Delegate Franka Weckner

With the COVID-19-pandemic, all parts of our lives have been shifted into the digital sphere.

Within our mandate as UN Youth Delegates for Germany, we engage with many young persons. We collect their ideas and opinions to represent them - like here, today.

In our attempt to talk to youth all over Germany, the challenges of digitalization became clear: The ongoing exclusion of many young persons in society.

It was very, very difficult for us to connect with youth living in rural areas or remote communities, while young people with disabilities faced a completely new set of access barriers.

In order to find solutions for some of the most pressing issues such as poverty and hunger, it is important to rise to this challenge. To achieve the SDGs you need to include young persons in all their diversity.

Youth Delegate Ruszlan Biwoino

So, what do we need to create a society that leaves no one, especially no young person, behind?

First, we need to ensure that political decisions that affect youth include them in a meaningful way. Young people can make sure that we don’t replicate inequalities.

Second, we need to create a political culture that takes young people seriously. We are a major human resource for development and key agents for social change, economic growth and technological innovation.

Third, we need to address the education crisis. We cannot talk about tackling poverty and hunger without talking about education. Young people need education as their tool to create inclusive and sustainable communities.

We will not achieve change and overcome discrimination with business-as-usual. It's time to get out of our comfort zones and open a dialogue that includes everyone, young and old.

We need each other, our ideas, and the voices of those often left behind to create an equitable future.

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