Child, early and forced marriage

Each year an estimated 15 million girls, younger than the age of 18, are forced into marriage.

Today, this means that there are more than 700 million women and girls worldwide who were married as children.

Canada works to end child, early and forced marriage so that girls around the world can reach their full potential. Their quality of life is increased by:

We are taking part in efforts to educate people about the devastating effects of child, early and forced marriage. We work in developing countries with girls, their families, communities and governments to eliminate this harmful practice.

The effects of child, early and forced marriage

Child, early and forced marriage is a global problem. Child brides can be found in every region of the world

However, most girls forced to marry at a young age live in developing countries:

Child, early and forced marriage occurs for a number of reasons including gender inequality, poverty, insecurity and tradition. Marrying at such a young age means that these young girls often get pregnant when they are not mentally or physically ready.

What is Canada doing to end early, child and forced marriage?

Canada is determined to raise awareness and generate action to end this harmful practice. The United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development includes a target to end child, early and forced marriage.

To reach this target, Canada is:

Talking about the risks

Helping girls, their families and communities learn about the risks of child, early and forced marriage is critical to changing social norms and traditions.

Canada works closely with local partners in the countries that are most affected to raise awareness and generate a conversation about the harmful effects of child, early and forced marriage.

Taking action at the local level

Ending child, early and forced marriage requires action across all sectors, including  health and education, and with a variety of stakeholders including governments, civil society, communities, families and girls themselves.

Canada is working with UN agencies, governments, Canadian and international civil society partners and local community groups to empower girls, mobilise families and communities, provide services and establish and implement laws and policies. We support activities to end child, early and forced marriage around the world. Activities include:

Working in partnership with the United Nations and regional organizations

Canada leads efforts to develop resolutions at the Human Rights Council and at the United Nations General Assembly that commit Member States to take action to end this practice. Canada and Zambia developed the first-ever United Nations General Assembly resolutions on child, early and forced marriage, which were passed in 2013 and 2014.

At the Human Rights Council, Canada worked with other countries to develop and sponsor resolutions on eliminating child, early and forced marriage in both 2013 and 2015.

Canada has also worked closely with regional organizations, including the Commonwealth, la Francophonie and the African Union to end child, early and forced marriage. 

Working with partners toward common global goals

Key partners help us achieve our global goals to end child, early and forced marriage. Working with partners to implement projects in high prevalence countries supports global efforts to create change for vulnerable girls.

These efforts include partnerships with organizations such as:

Related links

If you believe you are being forced into marriage, please visit our site on Forced marriage.

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