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  • Young child brideYoung child bride

    Child Marriage

    Globally, nearly 12 million girls are married before the age of 18 – that’s over 41,000 every day or nearly 1 girl every 2 seconds. This practice violates girls’ human rights, limits their education and harms their health.

  • Girl with young child Girl with young child

    They will never hold their peace

    Meet the Wedding Busters. They’re a group of Bangladeshi children on a mission to end child marriage. With the support of Plan International, they’ve successfully prevented 226 child marriages in their communities.

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Photo Credit: Lieve BlancquaertA child bride

FACTS ON CHILD MARRIAGE

  • Every year, nearly 12 million girls are married before the age of 18.
  • Early marriage often leads to early pregnancies. Complications during pregnancy and childbirth are the leading cause of death among 15 - 19 year-old girls globally.
  • Marrying before 18 can increase the risk of HIV infection in girls.
  • Child marriage is a global issue and no country, religion or culture is immune.
  • In absolute numbers, India has the highest number of child brides in the world. The rate of child marriage in the country is 47%.
  • Five countries with highest rates of child marriage are: Niger, Central African Republic, Chad, Mali and Bangladesh. In these countries, more than 50% of girls are married by 18.
  • Girls with secondary schooling are up to 6x less likely to marry as children compared to girls who have little or no education.

A summary of these statistics can be found on the Girls Not Brides and UNICEF

Girl holding a sign protesting child marriage.

A vicious cycle

Many child marriages are considered forced because in most situations, girls do not give their free and full consent. But in many cultural contexts, early marriage of girls is standard practice. As a result, girls may appear to give consent to respect and obey the wishes of their families and their communities.

The consequences of early marriage go beyond the lives of young married girls themselves, ultimately affecting the next generation.

Child brides are almost always forced to drop out of school. This not only limits girls own future prospects, but also their ability to contribute to their countries broader social and economic goals. Children of young, uneducated mothers are less likely to have a good start to their own education, to do well in class, or to continue beyond the minimum schooling. Even worse, daughters of uneducated mothers are especially likely to drop out of school, marry young, and continue the cycle.

If you or someone you know is at risk of entering a child or forced marriage, consult the Government of Canada’s website for more information and resources.

Success Stories

Girl looks into camera
Keya said I don’t

Early, forced and child marriage is a harsh reality for many girls in Keya's community but she refuses to be another statistic and is determined to pursue her education.

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Girl talking into microphone
Ending child marriage in Latin America

Youth in four Latin American countries are at the forefront of advocating for change and creating a movement to end child marriage. Their success is inspiring!

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Family of 4 smiling.
Hirut fought to stay in school

Bride kidnappings are common in Hirut’s community but she was rescued and now she’s fearlessly raising awareness about girls’ rights while continuing her education.

Read More

What is Plan International Canada doing?

Informing communities on the importance of girls’ education.

Ensuring children are registered at birth. Without registration, girls can’t prove their legal age.

Supporting girls’ access to vocational skills training.

Supporting youth-led groups that promote children’s rights in the community.

You can help #EndChildMarriage

With your help, we can make education more accessible in the communities where we work. The longer a girl stays in school, the less likely she is to get married as a child. Help girls decide their own futures.