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We are thrilled that CAMFED has been awarded the 2021 Conrad N. Hilton Humanitarian Prize, the world’s largest annual humanitarian award presented to a nonprofit in recognition of extraordinary contributions toward alleviating human suffering.

The Jury’s selection of CAMFED as the recipient of the 2021 Hilton Humanitarian Prize speaks first and foremost to its community led approach and to the power of investing in girls. CAMFED has revolutionized how girls’ education is delivered, tapping into local expertise in a way that is sustainable and scalable. Further, the pandemic has had a catastrophic effect on families and girls, with estimates that 11 million girls may not return to school as a result of the crisis. The time for the global community to learn from this model is now.

Peter Laugharn, President and CEO, Conrad N. Hilton Foundation

This Prize belongs to each individual in our movement — most of all the 178,000 members of the CAMFED Association— the pan-African network of women leaders educated with CAMFED support— and to our community-based champions including parents, teachers and local leaders. As COVID-19 and climate change continue to threaten the progress made by women and girls globally, our grassroots activists are stopping at nothing to make sure girls stay safe and keep learning.

The CAMFED Association, founded in 1998, includes young women who serve as mentors and trainers, work as teachers, health care workers, and climate-smart entrepreneurs, and each support with their own resources another three girls – on average – to go to school each year.

CAMFED’s model of investing in girls’ education from childhood through their formative years, with a focus on celebrating the agency of the next generation of female leaders, is a proven success even in the face of adversity, and has been recognized by notable leaders and thinkers across the globe.

 

CAMFED has demonstrated an ability to make a large-scale difference to girls’ lives through education. I have been truly impressed by their approach to scaling their model while retaining an unremitting focus on reaching girls who are the most vulnerable and ‘invisible’. Their results are well-evidenced, sustainable and replicable, and the societal consequences are deep and profound. CAMFED is creating a movement of future leaders who I believe have the potential to transform a continent. I am thrilled to see this recognized by the Hilton Humanitarian Prize.

The Honourable Julia Gillard AC, 27th Prime Minister of Australia and Chair of the Global Partnership for Education

CAMFED was founded in 1993 in response to the scale of girls’ exclusion from education, and in recognition of the transformative benefits that accrue when the right to education is secured for all girls. What began in Zimbabwe as a program supporting 32 girls in two schools has now become a movement that has already supported more than 4.8 million disadvantaged students in 6,787 schools across 163 districts in Ghana, Malawi, Tanzania, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

CAMFED’s model, which has been thoroughly tested and refined, provides financial and social support for girls to attend and thrive in primary and secondary school. Post-school, CAMFED provides business training, finance, and support for young women to access higher education and employment opportunities, so that they can safely transition to a secure and fulfilling adulthood. Those joining the CAMFED Association commit to mentoring and supporting each other, as well as the next generation, as they grow into respected role models in their communities, working to secure every child’s right to go to school, and change the status quo for girls for good.

CAMFED’s Executive Director, Angeline Murimirwa, was one of the first young women to receive support from CAMFED to go to secondary school and is a founding member of the CAMFED Association. She now oversees the delivery of CAMFED’s mission, working closely with all CAMFED offices. Angeline understands from experience both the desire for education and the enormous hurdles girls face in securing their right to education.

We are thrilled to have this recognition at this critical moment. So much is at stake. Around the world we are faced with the question: ‘How do we navigate the impact of COVID and climate change without turning back the clock on women and girls?’ The Hilton Humanitarian Prize shines a bright light on our movement, rising from Africa. This Prize belongs to our communities, for rallying around the education and leadership of young women who know intimately what poverty and exclusion feel like, and what it takes for girls to succeed. Because when girls succeed, and women lead, we can tackle the world’s most intractable challenges together.

Angeline Murimirwa, CAMFED Executive Director – Africa

Angeline confirmed that the $2.5 million Prize funds will be used to help grow the CAMFED Association to 280,000 action-oriented women leaders, who have the expertise, the passion, the commitment, the connections, and the democratic infrastructure for cascading knowledge and acting with agility in times of crisis. Their activism is at the core of CAMFED’s wider strategic goals: To support another 5 million girls through school; to help 50,000 young women to create climate-smart agricultural businesses; and to create 150,000 new jobs over the next five years.

In place of what has previously been an in-person Prize ceremony and symposium, this year, the Hilton Foundation will once again host a virtual Prize ceremony and an online conversation series in partnership with Devex under the theme “The Future of Humanitarian Action: The Power of Communities.” The Prize Ceremony will take place virtually on Wednesday, October 13, followed by the conversation series later in the fall.

Read the Devex Op Ed “Looking at girls’ education through a different lens” by CAMFED’s Co-Executives Angeline Murimirwa and Lucy Lake

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