CAMFED Association leader, Malawi
Luwiza was raised in a family of five children in Mchinji district, Malawi. Her family did not have the financial resources to cover her school-going costs, and like thousands of other children in Malawi, Luwiza faced a future of exclusion and extreme poverty.
In Malawi there are a number of barriers to education, including widespread poverty and an acute lack of secondary schools. In this context, girls are most likely to drop out of education, leaving them vulnerable to the dangers of child marriage, early pregnancy and HIV/AIDS.
As one of the most marginalized girls in her community, Luwiza was identified by a committee comprised of local leaders, school staff and parents to receive a holistic package of support from CAMFED. With her right to education secured, Luwiza’s prospects for the future were transformed. When she graduated in 2014, she immediately joined the CAMFED Association (CAMA) – the network of women leaders educated with CAMFED support – which addresses rural isolation and provides young women with a platform for stepping up for others.
Being in CAMA means having sympathy and having the capability to help others in need.
An active member in the CAMFED Association, Luwiza was soon elected into a leadership position. She served as the CAMFED Association Cluster Chair (2015), District Chairperson (2017), before being elected as National Chair in April 2018, working in support of 17,530 CAMFED Association members across 17 districts. In that role she engages with school officials, traditional leaders and parents to break down the barriers to girls’ education. Luwiza has already enabled at least 10 girls to continue their schooling rather than get married, and has provided one-off financial support to at least 90 rural children – mostly girls.
If I can do it, their daughters can do the same or better.
As a once marginalized girl herself, Luwiza has both the lived experience and deep empathy which drives young women in the CAMFED Association to act. She remembers the first time she spoke up at a village meeting, where young women are not always included in decision-making. For a girl to speak up was very bold, but Luwiza’s passion and courage paid off and the traditional leader summoned her to the elders’ meeting to talk about her experience.
Luwiza became widely known as the National Chairperson of the CAMFED Association and one of the most successful businesswomen in her district. The National Chairperson sits on the CAMFED Malawi Board and contributes towards decisions that are focused on the welfare of girls and young women. Luwiza campaigns against child marriage, provides guidance and mentoring to students at her local school, and introduces disadvantaged youth – particularly young women – to sustainable farming techniques.
Luwiza has seen first hand the effects of Cyclone Idai and is encouraging more CAMFED Association members to run climate-smart businesses, coordinating tree planting training by District Forest Officers.
She runs a piggery, as well as cultivating commercial crops, like soya, Irish potatoes, and maize. Luwiza provides jobs for young people, and encourages them to think more about the environment – to cut down on bush-burning and the excessive use of chemicals in farming.
Luwiza practices intercropping to preserve the soil, and challenges others to think about all the opportunities in agriculture while protecting the land.
She hopes to grow her business to sell more piglets, open a butchery, and become a pork supplier.
I am seen as a role model, which makes me humble, and spurs me on.
With her profits, Luwiza supports both of her siblings in primary school, and helps three more students with school uniforms, books, pens, and exam fees. She has been able to build a 3-bedroomed house for her family. In the long-run, Luwiza is looking to fund a university degree and advance her education.