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NPR’s Malaka Gharib interviewed CAMFED Association leader Eliza Chikoti in Mwanza District, Malawi this month. In her article and radio interview Girls, Has The Pandemic Made You Think Of Quitting School? Call Your Mentor they discussed young women’s activism in the face of COVID-19. At a time when schools are closed, Eliza underscored the importance of collective action, led by female role models and mentors, to keep girls learning, hopeful, and safe from child marriage. The practice is on the increase during the pandemic, as families struggle for basic necessities. 

“She changed her mind, she said, ‘I think I've reversed my decision. I will not get married. You will be my mentor.” - Eliza Chikoti, CAMFED Association Leader, Malawi

Eliza, who comes from a vulnerable background and was herself supported through high school by CAMFED, was the first young woman in her district to earn a university degree.

She is a member of our CAMFED Association of women leaders, and works as a CAMFED District Officer, using her lived experience and expertise to support other young graduates, as well as to rally community support around vulnerable girls in her community. Eliza works with families, schools and government officials to create lasting change.

In the interview, she tells the story of a 15-year old girl, who, during the pandemic school closures, considered early marriage as her only viable option. Women like Eliza are vital role models at this critical time, using their own stories and influence to prevent child marriage, supporting girls to keep learning, and helping families access local services.

Find out what happened by listening here: Girls, Has The Pandemic Made You Think Of Quitting School? Call Your Mentor

Eliza Chikoti with microphone

Eliza is a respected leader in her district, rallying community support around vulnerable girls