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Angeline (Angie) Murimirwa

Chief Executive Officer, CAMFED

I don’t just think, I haven’t just read, that education can transform lives, I have lived it.

Angie was a star student at primary school, but what should have been carefree childhood days were blighted by the desperation of poverty. She remembers the indignity of arriving at school barefoot, wearing a torn dress, and offering to do chores for her teacher in return for a pencil. At home Angie would often find her mother with eyes swollen from a “migraine,” only later realizing she had been weeping for the education she could not afford for her brilliant daughter, an education also denied to her.

Angie’s teacher used to tell her how much her intellect reminded him of her mother’s. These were bitter words for Angie, who wept the same tears, because she knew her education was coming to an end. Though she graduated primary school not only with the best results in her school, but in her district, there was no hope of continuing to secondary education.

At this time CAMFED Zimbabwe had just just started its first program in her rural community, and Angie qualified for educational support. She was provided with secondary school fees, uniform, books and menstrual products, and was supported to stay in the school’s boarding house, as she lived too far away to walk to school every day. All these items had simply been out of reach before. Yet Angie remembers feeling guilty when she had regular meals at school, wondering if her family would manage to eat that day.

It wasn’t easy to stay in school, because it meant you had to pretend you were not aware of the challenges back home or the challenges still facing you.

She sank into a kind of depression until a male teacher, who’d come from a similar marginalized background, lectured the group of students. He said that dropping out was not going to help their families – it was through their education that they would be able to secure a different future for their loved ones.

That’s when Angie fully seized her chance to learn and excel. She became one of the first 400 girls to graduate secondary school with CAMFED’s support, and was a founding member of the CAMFED Association of women leaders educated with CAMFED support, also known as CAMA. Coming together for the first time, Angie and her peers knew that even after the triumph of completing school, many obstacles lay ahead. All eager to support their families, they remained at risk of exploitation and early marriage, as they sought a source of income in rural areas with high unemployment.

It was a commitment to say, we’re going to be there for each other, to address this isolation that we encounter. We are going to go back to our communities, and do what we can.

Angie with children in Zimbabwe in 2003 (Photo: Mark Read/CAMFED)

Angie with secondary school girls in Zimbabwe in 2017 (Photo: CAMFED)

Angie found the strength and charisma to stand as their leader, and was elected by her peers as the first ever CAMFED Association Chairperson in Zimbabwe. She knew that separately their endeavors might fail, or they might become trapped in lives of early childbearing and domestic labor. However, as a sisterhood they could share ideas, knowledge and opportunities, protect each others’ interests and grow into the female role models desperately needed by the next cohort of girls finishing school.

We shared our experiences… and as we did that, we realized it was a beacon of light for parents and children, people themselves who were drowning in desperation.

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Discussing Epiphanies in Proximity at the Skoll World Forum 2018

Watch Angie speak alongside other leaders and social entrepreneurs at the Skoll World Forum in Oxford, on the theme of Epiphanies in Proximity: Personal Stories of Turning Points.

She reflects on the day the CAMFED Association was founded by 400 young women who had been educated through school with CAMFED’s support. Angie and the group pledged their on-going support for one another and to use our influential positions to be purposeful role models in their communities.

Read video transcript

Angie went on to volunteer for CAMFED, then became an employed program coordinator, and eventually CAMFED Zimbabwe’s first National Executive Director.

Many of CAMFED’s supporters in North America got to know her story from the best-selling book ‘Half the Sky’ by Nick Kristoff and Sheryl WuDunn, released in 2009. Angie was part of the team leading CAMFED’s expansion into Ghana, Zambia, Tanzania and Malawi, using her own experience to build trust in partner communities, and was eventually promoted to Regional Executive Director for East Africa.

Angie played a key role in the launch CAMFED’s Learner Guide Program, which sees CAMFED Association members returning to their local schools as mentors and life skills coaches, and fills the gaps young people identified in school and after school. CAMFED Association members are integral in galvanizing communities to support their children in education, understand the challenges they face, and band together to find solutions.

Every child deserves the chance to go to school and every community deserves the chance to give the best that they can to that child in their midst.

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TED Talk: Revolutionizing education through social interest

Angie’s talk introduces the revolutionary concept of ‘social interest,’ a whole new approach to lending, which allows young African secondary school graduates — considered ‘unbankable’ — to gain access to finance, paying forward their interest in service to vulnerable students and exponentially multiplying the impact of their loan.

Read video transcript

Watch Angie's TED Talk

Angie Murimirwa (left) with two CAMFED Association sisters and Malala Yousafzai’s youth ambassadors in New York in 2015, including Malala’s friends Kainat Riaz (in red) and Shazia Ramzan (in yellow), who were also injured in the attack on Malala in 2012.  (Photo: CAMFED/Anke Adams)

Angie Murimirwa (far left) and Fiona Mavhinga (far right) stand with CAMFED Association leaders, a traditional leader and the chair of a Mother Support Group in Zimbabwe, all partnering to educate girls and empower women. (Photo:  Harriet Grigg/CAMFED)

Angie continues to be an active member of the CAMFED Association, and works closely with her friend and colleague Fiona Mavhinga – Executive Adviser, CAMFED Association – to guide and mentor this powerful movement. Association members collectively support tens of thousands of children each year to go to primary and secondary school through their own philanthropy.  Angie is particularly proud of the Association’s unique and vital role in ensuring CAMFED’s work is scalable and sustainable.

For every young girl that is starting on her educational journey, the CAMFED Association provides that vision of what’s possible…

In 2017, Angeline was recognized as one of the 100 most influential women by the BBC, and Rihanna’s Clara Lionel Foundation presented Angie with the 2017 Diamond Ball Honours Award, recognizing her past, present and future support of young leaders, entrepreneurship and civic engagement. At the end of that year, she was appointed CAMFED’s Executive Director in Africa, working as CAMFED Co-Executive alongside CEO Lucy Lake

In 2020, Angie and Lucy, who steered the organization through a global pandemic and worked closely with young women and partners at every level to ensure that girls were kept safe and learning, were honored with the Yidan Prize for Education Development, and joined its Council of Luminaries. That same year, New York Times columnist and two-time Pulitzer Prize winner Nicholas Kristof surprised Angie with the announcement that he had selected CAMFED as the Grand Prize winner of the Kristof Holiday Impact Prize.

In 2021, Angie accepted the Conrad N. Hilton Humanitarian Prize on behalf of CAMFED. In 2022, CNN profiled Angie during a trip to Malawi, where she showcased the impact of other young women in the CAMFED Association, who are keeping girls in school, running businesses, and taking climate action. 

In January 2023, Angie took up the baton from Lucy Lake to become CAMFED’s CEO. She continues to work closely with Lucy to rally communities, strategic partners, government ministries and supporters across the globe around the urgent imperative of supporting vulnerable girls to thrive in school and beyond the school gates. Together with their colleagues across the globe, they are ensuring that the lived experience and leadership of those once at the margins informs CAMFED’s program development and delivery at every level.

CAMFED Association members are the experts, these are people that have lived it, these are the people that personify what we are trying to do in Africa.

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CNN profiles Angie in Changemakers series

This 11-minute episode of CNN’s African Voices Changemakers highlights the leadership of Angie and her sisters in the CAMFED Association, using their lived experience to achieve gender equality, economic development and climate action through girls’ education.

Filmed in Blantyre and Mulanje, Malawi, the segment shows Angie engaging with staff, students supported by CAMFED, as well as young women who have stepped into leadership and entrepreneurship after graduation. You’ll see Angie with fellow CAMFED graduates who are running businesses, taking steps to build their communities’ resilience to climate change, and supporting the next generation of girls through school.

Watch CNN's African Voices Changemakers

Throughout Angie’s leadership journey, her mother has remained her inspiration and role model. Angie often quotes her words when talking about the unstoppable power and persistence of the educated young women in the CAMFED Association, our leadership network:

We have been through a thunderstorm – showers won’t frighten us

More videos and articles from Angie

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2022 Hilton Humanitarian Symposium and Prize Ceremony

Angie joined journalist, producer and philanthropist Soledad O’Brien in conversation at the 2022 Hilton Humanitarian Prize Symposium and Ceremony, held in Beverly Hills, California to discuss “Girls’ education as a catalyst for change.” They also offer congratulations to that year’s Conrad N. Hilton Humanitarian Prize recipient, the Norwegian Refugee Council/.

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In conversation with Nick Kristof, New York Times Op Ed columnist

In 2020, New York Times Op Ed columnist Nick Kristof selected CAMFED as the Grand Prize winner of the Kristof Holiday Impact Prize. In this online conversation, Angie discusses her own story and the Multiplier Effect of education, which see every young woman educated with CAMFED support goes on to support, on average, another 3 girls to go to school! And that doesn’t even touch the wider multiplier of education, which results in healthier, wealthier, more equal nations. 

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NewsGlobal

CAMFED Co-Executives join ‘Council of Luminaries’, announced at 2020 Yidan Prize Summit

At the 2020 Yidan Prize Awards Presentation Ceremony and Summit, CAMFED Co-Executives Angeline Murimirwa and Lucy Lake accepted the Yidan Prize for Education Development on behalf of everyone in our movement. At the Summit, Angeline and Lucy were invited to join the newly-formed Council of Luminaries.

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BlogZimbabwe

Five lessons for harvesting success through home-grown school meal programs

In light of International Day of Charity, Angeline Murimirwa, Regional Executive Director of CAMFED Africa, tells of the lessons she has learned from establishing home-grown school meal programs and how partnership is a lot like making a success of sustainable farming methods — going from risky subsistence level to something that will sustain not just your family, but your community, and help build a better future

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60 million girls foundation virtual conference 2022

Girls’ education: the crucial link for climate action

Watch this 2022 conference to discover the latest research, innovations, and projects in girls’ education. Angie sat down with Wanda Bedard – President and Founder of 60 million girls Foundation to discuss education as a powerful tool not only for ending extreme poverty, but also for tackling climate change. 

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My CNN interview with Zain Asher

Angie joined Zain Asher on CNN on December 30, 2021 to explore how leadership and entrepreneurship ignited by girls’ education challenges traditional gender norms, and how loans repaid with social interest are benefiting low income communities in Africa.

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NewsGlobal

Looking at girls’ education through a different lens

CAMFED Co-Executives Angeline Murimirwa and Lucy Lake are urging the global education community to take an approach that is both inclusive and disruptive in order to change the status quo and deliver social justice.

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Leadership Journeys: A Conversation with Hilton Prize Laureates

Angie joined dynamic global leaders: Maggie Miller, Senior Director, Hilton Humanitarian Prize at Conrad N. Hilton Foundation and Dr. Caroline Kisia, Chief Operating Officer of SHOFCO (2018 Hilton Humanitarian Prize Laureate) for this conversation hosted by The Conrad N. Hilton Foundation and Atlas Corps. 

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CNBC Africa: How COVID-19 has laid bare the inequality gap in education for girls

Watch Angie’s appearance on CNBC Africa in 2021 to discuss the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on marginalized girls’ access to learning. She shares how CAMFED, as experts in girls’ inclusion in education, are working to address the issues of poverty, early marriage and the digital divide, which have all been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

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BlogZimbabwe

I’ve experienced how periods push girls out of school

Angeline Murimirwa, CAMFED’s Executive Director - Africa, shares her experiences growing up in a very resource-poor area of rural Zimbabwe to highlight how period poverty and taboo surrounding menstruation is a risk to girls' health and school attendance.

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One Young World Summit 2022 (Digital Edition) - "Advancing Girls' Education: The Path to Gender Equality?"

Angie joined Moderator Mary Helda Akongo, Fundi Girls Program Lead, Fundi Bots; Salimatou Fatty, Founder and Executive Director, Salimatou Foundation for Education; and Muzoon Almellehan, UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, Syrian refugee and education activist, for a lively discussion at the 2022 One Young World Summit.

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Choosing Change: How to Assess Proposals for Their Potential to Reduce Structural Inequality

Angie joined this webinar hosted by the Center for High Impact Philanthropy and Lever for Change. It focuses on a toolkit to help donors and funders at all levels identify proposals and teams that have potential to advance systemic change.

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Live from Skoll: Power, proximity and development donorship

Angie joined this special edition of Devex’s ‘Long Story Short’ series live from the 2018 Skoll World Forum in Oxford to discuss the intersection of proximity, power and donorship in international development. 

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