Child Marriage Strikes a Chord with Canadians

Fact:  Every 3 seconds a girl is forced into child marriage. Thus opening the door to violence, assault and early childbirth, while closing the door to her ever having an education or basic freedoms. While some Canadians may have heard this statistic, were we really inspired to do anything about it?

Plan International Canada recently tasked BBR Toronto with a complex issue: illuminating child marriage in a way that would evoke a response in Canadians within seconds – and inspire them to donate.

We knew that for the last year or two, Plan and other organizations have offered Canadians a glimpse into the realities of child marriage. But we also knew that these stories could be less impactful—and more likely to be forgotten—when they’re not told by our loved ones.

From this insight, our idea for the IRL (In Real Life) campaign was born. We would show the effects of child marriage from the point of view of Canadian girls. This contrast would highlight the injustice, as well as the reality of a girl’s squandered potential, by forcing Canadians to imagine our own children as having to endure a child marriage.

The campaign resonated with Canadians and generated a response immediately. Some were inspired; and some were outraged (a mall in Calgary pulled the campaign outright).
But it was clear that our work was cutting through.

The IRL campaign was recently picked up by CTV News, who reached out to do a feature news story and help raise awareness on the issue of child marriage.

Dana Levenson from CTV News interviewed Caroline Riseboro, Plan International Canada President and CEO, and Saadya Hamdani, Director of Gender Equality and Child Protection, who spoke about the toll that child marriage takes on girls around the world. Currently, 650 million women alive today were married as girls.

The segment also pointed out that PM Justin Trudeau plans to champion an initiative for girls’ education at the G7 summit next month. This issue is now clearly getting the attention it deserves — and giving Canadians a platform to help support the cause.