By Asmau Ahmad with Agency Report
Canada and Nigeria are collaborating to end child, early and forced marriage in the country, the Canadian High Commission in Nigeria said on Thursday. A statement issued by Ms Ezinne Uluocha, Public Affairs Officer of the Canadian High Commission in Abuja, said a significant reduction in child marriage would ensure a better society.
The statement said the High Commission was collaborating with Isa Wali Empowerment Initiative, a Nigerian NGO, to highlight the worldwide issue of child marriage as it affects Nigeria.
“The Canadian High Commissioner, Mr Perry Calderwood is collaborating with Ms Amina Hanga, Executive Secretary of Nigerian NGO, Isa Wali Empowerment Initiative.
“The NGO forms part of the “Girls Not Brides” network, which was awarded the Government of Canada Diefenbaker Human Rights and Freedom Award in Ottawa in November 2014.
“Ms Hanga, along with a representative from an India-based sister organisation, and a member of the Board of Directors, accepted the award on behalf of Girls Not Brides.”
It said child marriage hindered the achievement of the six Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which is expected to be met by all countries by the end of this year.
According to it, ensuring that child marriage is meaningfully included in the post-2015 global development agenda is a top priority for Canadian government.
“Child, early and forced marriage has hindered advancement of six of the eight MDGs.
“The six MDGs are: eradicate extreme poverty and hunger; universal primary education; gender equality; child mortality; maternal health; combat HIV and other diseases.
“A significant reduction in its prevalence would result in more developed, just and prosperous societies,” it said.
It said the high commission would on Jan. 15, host a reception marking the showing of “Too Young to Wed”, a video highlighting the worldwide issue of child marriage.
According to it, the video has been shown around the world, including the U.S., UK, Argentina, Portugal, Finland, Morocco, Lebanon, Jordan, Senegal and Ghana.
The statement said Canada had helped to create international momentum against child marriage.
“Canada addresses child, early and forced marriage through several health, poverty alleviation and education international development assistance programmes.
“In October 2013, Foreign Minister Baird announced five million dollars to address the causes and consequences of child, early and forced marriage around the world.
“These funds were used for programmes in Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Ghana, Somalia, and Zimbabwe.
“On July 4, 2014, Baird announced that Canada is contributing 20 million dollars over two years to UNICEF toward ending child, early and forced marriage.
“The UNICEF project aims to accelerate the movement to end child marriage in Bangladesh, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Ghana,Yemen and Zambia by supporting efforts in these countries to strengthen programming and political support to end the practice.”
It said Canada was aware that the leadership of high-prevalence countries was essential in efforts to end child marriage, and would provide support to AU campaign to end child marriage. According to it, the campaign aims to accelerate the end of child marriage in Africa by enhancing continental awareness of its effects.