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Camfed at the Girls’ Education Forum, July 7th, 2016 #SheWill

Once among the most vulnerable and excluded, Camfed alumna Fiona Mavhinga traveled to London this week to represent CAMA – the extraordinary pan-African network of more than 55,000 young women leaders for girls’ education who share unrivalled expertise in what works to keep marginalized girls in school. At the UK’s Girls’ Education Forum, Fiona shared the impact and successes of Camfed’s approach, and challenged the international community and national governments to get the financing mechanisms right, ensuring that no marginalized girls are left behind in the drive for quality education for all, as Camfed committed to supporting one million girls in Africa to go to secondary school.

On the 7th of July, the UK Department for International Development (DFID) hosted the Girls’ Education Forum to galvanize action for girls’ education around the globe, building on commitments made since the United Nations announced the Global Sustainable Development Goals in 2015. Fiona Mavhinga, one of the first girls supported to go to school by Camfed, the Campaign for Female Education, stood with Malala Yousafzai in New York when leaders from 193 countries announced the goals that are to guide global action to end extreme poverty, fight inequality, and save our environment. 

In London she joined a roundtable with the Secretary of State for International Development and global leaders like Julia Gillard, Chair of the Global Partnership for Education and former Prime Minister of Australia, to emphasize just how pivotal education funding is to the rest of the development agenda.  At the Forum, Camfed underlined its commitment to supporting one million girls in sub-Saharan Africa to go to secondary school by 2020, and the Vice Chancellor of the University of Cambridge committed to partner with Camfed to analyze the true cost of supporting a marginalized girl through secondary school and improving her learning.  This will provide a reference point for the global community, ensuring that no girl is left behind in the drive for quality education for all.

Fiona Mavhinga speaks at a high level policy roundtable at the Girls' Education Forum

Photo credit: Russell Watkins/Department for International Development

Young women who have lived through rural poverty truly understand the barriers to girls’ education

Fiona as a newly qualified lawyer in Harare

Fiona as a newly qualified lawyer in Harare, working in a practice with one other woman, among 13 men

Together with her colleague Nasikiwa Duke from Tanzania, Fiona shared her personal story and showcased the success of Camfed’s model, which sees CAMA alumnae across Ghana, Malawi, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe now coming together to support hundreds of thousands of girls to go to school. “We represented the voices of young women who have lived through rural poverty, truly understand the barriers to girls’ education, and partner with communities to support girls to stay in school and succeed,” says Fiona. As a girl, Fiona used to get up at 4 am every morning to sell vegetables on the market with her grandmother, trying to make enough money to pay for food and school fees. She struggled to maintain her grip on education.  

With support from Camfed, Fiona excelled at school, went on to university, became a lawyer and a founding member of the CAMA network. Pioneered by the first young women who graduated from school with Camfed’s support, CAMA addresses the vulnerability of girls after completing school, enabling them to support each other while building life and business skills, and accessing the resources necessary to stay in their local communities as entrepreneurs and changemakers for the next generation of marginalized girls.

Tangible results demonstrating the value of investing in girls’ education and young women’s leadership

Funding under DFID’s Girls’ Education Challenge (GEC) has allowed Camfed to scale its holistic, community-led program of support for marginalized girls, addressing not only access to – but quality at – school, enabling many more girls to learn effectively, complete secondary school, and join CAMA’s growing movement for change. “We break down the barriers girls face in the transition to secondary school, as well as in the transition into independence after school – so vital if young women are to multiply the benefits of their education. I am now a lawyer and I have supported 22 children to go to school,” says Fiona Mavhinga. In 2015, CAMA members and their communities supported 376,328 children at primary and secondary school.

“CAMA is truly the embodiment of the ability of community-based solutions to unlock the power of girls’ education. And in two years there will be 130,000 of us, ready to lead the charge,” says Fiona. “We are an unstoppable human revolution, a revolution that is happening in our communities, started by the education of girls. And with the right financing in place, together we can take that revolution worldwide.”

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Camfed’s participation at the Girls’ Education Forum 2016:

Fiona presented at the Policy Roundtable and the Main Plenary at the Forum. Nasikiwa Duke delivered a “My Better World” life skills session during a Self-Esteem Workshop, and took ‘Centre Stage’ to deliver her pitch for girls’ education. In the evening, Fiona and Nasikiwa shared their experiences with young activists Live at the View from the Shard, as Global Citizen brought together inspiring speakers and intimate music by Laura Mvula and Tom Odell.

Join us live on social media @Camfed and Facebook.com/Camfed #SheWill

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