Plan Canada applauds Canada-led United Nations resolution to end child, early and forced marriage

Resolution is a major step forward for upholding the human rights of girls and ending a harmful, deadly practice

CANADA, November 21, 2014 – Plan International Canada welcomes today’s announcement of the United Nations General Assembly resolution to end child, early and forced marriage, which was led by the Governments of Canada and Zambia with broad support from UN member states. This clear statement against child marriage from the international community gives strength and support to advocates around the world seeking to change policy, practice, behaviour and attitudes in their own communities.

“Child marriage is a serious human rights violation that occurs in every region of the world. We fully support this resolution because, for the first time, it marks a clear international commitment to eradicating a harmful and often deadly practice that impacts the lives of millions of girls,” said Rosemary McCarney, President and CEO of Plan Canada. “Plan Canada has called on Canada to lead this resolution at the UN and we congratulate the government for its leadership on this very important issue.”

One in three girls in the developing world will be married by her 18th birthday. That’s 15 million girls per year, over 41,000 every day, or almost one girl every two seconds1. Also, each year, 13.7 million girls in developing countries between the ages of 15-19 give birth while married, and complications from pregnancy and childbirth are the leading cause of death for girls aged 15-19 in developing countries2.

Through its Because I am a Girl initiative, Plan Canada is focused on ensuring that more girls in developing countries stay in school in order to lift themselves and their communities out of poverty. Child, early and forced marriage is one of the biggest barriers and human rights violations that girls face and that keeps them out of school.

“Child brides are too often forced to drop out of school early and with few opportunities to gain knowledge and skills they pass this vulnerability on to the next generation,” added McCarney. “While this UN resolution is aimed at helping to end the practice, there is still work to be done. All governments, including Canada, need dedicated, long-term funding and programs to support global efforts to end the practice.”

Ending child and forced marriage will not happen overnight. The practice has complex, contributing factors like poverty, war, and disasters that often push some families into seeking protection and a better life for their girls through marriage when, really, the opposite becomes true. Addressing the problem requires a sustained commitment involving collective efforts and resources at different levels – not only through international and national laws and means, but also through working with local communities. For Plan, that work includes:

  • increasing support for girls’ education as a major factor in preventing child and forced marriage and as a way to empower girls who are already married;
  • promoting prevention through awareness and participation;
  • engaging traditional, family, and community leaders to become advocates of ending child and forced marriage in their own communities; and
  • ensuring appropriate laws are in place that stipulate a legal age of marriage and seeing that those laws are enforced before a marriage takes place.

Plan Canada was also pleased to see the Canadian government’s announcement from earlier this week of an additional $10 million in funding as another step toward ending the practice of child, early and forced marriage in developing countries, including $3 million to support Plan projects in Bangladesh and Zimbabwe.

About Plan and the Because I am a Girl initiative

Founded in 1937, Plan is one of the world’s oldest and largest international development agencies, working in partnership with millions of people around the world to end global poverty. Not for profit, independent and inclusive of all faiths and cultures, Plan has only one agenda: to improve the lives of children. Because I am a Girl is Plan’s global initiative to end gender inequality, promote girls’ rights and lift millions of girls – and everyone around them – out of poverty. Visit plancanada.ca and becauseiamagirl.ca for more information.

Media contacts

Abigail Brown, Senior Media and Public Relations Manager, Plan Canada
T: 416.920.1654 x277 | C: 647.971.3764 | abrown@plancanada.ca


1 United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), Ending Child Marriage: Progress and prospects, 2014.

2 Plan International, A girl’s right to say no to marriage: Working to end child marriage and keep girls in school, 2013.

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