The simple principle that a woman should be able to choose whom and when to marry is an absolute given in this country. But the sad reality around the world is that millions of girls as young as eight or nine years of age are forced into marriage every year. Some suggest the number could be as high as 38,000 per day, which adds up to a staggering 9.5 million a year. This is utterly wrong, and we have a duty to say so.
Our government has made it a priority to fight the scourge of child, early and forced marriage. You could see this in the speech from the throne when we outlined the priority that our government places on protecting the rights of all girls and helping them fulfil their potential. Not only is this in line with Canadian values, but we believe that it is ultimately in every nation’s self-interest to do so.
On Thursday, Canada will introduce the first-ever stand-alone resolution on child, early and forced marriage at the United Nations General Assembly. The resolution reaffirms commitments to protect children’s rights and calls for further action in the General Assembly to address this barbaric practice.