Child, early and forced marriage (CEFM) is a global, widespread, and harmful practice that threatens the lives and futures of girls around the world. Canada has identified ending CEFM as a foreign policy and development priority and is taking action around the world to address the issue.
After making its debut at the 2015 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Malta, The High Commission of Canada in the United Kingdom, in collaboration with Girls Not Brides launched the “Girls’ Voices: Speaking Out Against Child Marriage” exhibit at Canada House in London to continue to raise awareness of CEFM across the world.
Child marriage not only jeopardises efforts to improve maternal and infant health but also has devastating consequences for a girl, her family, and her future children. Child brides face high risks of death and injury during pregnancy and childbirth. Their children are at risk too: when a mother is under 20, her baby is less likely to live beyond its first birthday.
The exhibit reveals the untold stories of girls at risk of child marriage, who are standing up for their rights, and the community members who are advocating for change alongside them. It features stories from girls, boys, women, men, and religious and traditional leaders from countries in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. These stories highlight the complexity and many-sided nature of child marriage, the links between child marriage and poverty, education, sexual and reproductive health, humanitarian disasters, and religion.
“This exhibition is a powerful way of giving voices to those courageous individuals fighting to end child marriage. These photos and stories are a window into the lives of young girls who have been pressurised into dropping out of school, leaving their families, and having children before they are either physically or mentally ready, all because of child marriage.”
-Lakshmi Sundaram, Executive Director of Girls Not Brides
Canada is proud to showcase the Girls’ Voices exhibit as a way to shed light on the importance of ending child marriage. The exhibit has been cleverly designed to be easily reproduced by missions around the world. The Canadian embassies in Netherlands and Switzerland are currently planning to display it in their respective countries.
Through collective action with countries around the world, Canada is bringing global attention and action to ending the harmful practice of CEFM worldwide.