Supporting girls to learn and lead in Malawi

CAMFED Malawi was launched in 2009, and by 2023 was working in 17 districts. Malawi suffers from an acute lack of secondary schools, meaning children —  especially in rural areas —  often have to travel long distances to school. This makes them extremely vulnerable to exploitation and school drop out. In addition, there is a critical lack of qualified teachers, with a pupil: teacher ratio of 72:1 at secondary level.  With very few female teachers, those girls able to get to school lack the role models to help encourage them to stay. 

In the rural communities CAMFED serves, the majority of people work in the agricultural sector, which is vulnerable to volatile economic growth and adverse weather conditions. In recent years the country has seen economic growth, but significant challenges remain. 

In Malawi, girls from poor families face considerable barriers to access education. Many lack the resources to stay in school, resulting in high rates of early marriage, teen pregnancy, and school drop out. I believe that with the right educational support, every child has the power to break the cycle of poverty. Education is a powerful instrument for improving health, achieving gender equality and socio-economic growth. Through our network of young women in the CAMFED Association, the Malawian government, parents, local communities and Civil Society Organizations, CAMFED supports the most marginalized girls on their journey to independence. Together we can!

Robert Chioza, Engagements Director, CAMFED Malawi


Education ignites our potential

“CAMFED demonstrates that by investing in the education of girls and young women in Malawi, they are investing in the development of the nation and the world as a whole. Powerful, educated young women like myself, possess the ability to disrupt the cycle of poverty and spark long-lasting transformation within our communities. Education ignites our potential and facilitates profound changes in our lives.”

Chisomo Luciano, CAMFED Association National Chairperson, Malawi.

Barriers to education

Children in Malawi face multiple complex barriers including a lack of secondary school places, poverty, and risk of child marriage.

  • 70%

    In Malawi 70% of people live below the international monetary poverty line of $1.90 per day.

    UNDP (2019)

  • 13%

    Only 13% of girls complete upper secondary school in Malawi, and among the poorest children this falls to 2%.

    UNICEF (2019)

  • 42%

    In Malawi 42% of girls are married before the age of 18, and 9% are married before the age of 15.

    UNICEF (2020)

Play videoImage

Tackling child marriage

Meet Rose Alexander, a member of our CAMFED Association in Malawi. In this video, Rose explains how she and other young women in this powerful network rally school and community support to end child marriage. Together, they have annulled a significant number of child marriages and supported girls to continue their education.

Read video transcript

Malawi has the 12th highest child marriage prevalence rate in the world, although marriage below the age of 18 is now illegal. The country has committed to eliminate child, early and forced marriage by 2030 in line with target 5.3 of the Sustainable Development Goals. CAMFED Association members like Rose work closely with parents, community members, schools, and social workers to help girls stay in school and out of child marriage.

Since 2009, CAMFED Malawi has....

  • 259K

    supported 258,520 students to go to primary and secondary school using donor funds.

  • 201K

    Of these, 200,990 students have been supported to go to primary school - CAMFED's Safety Net Fund for partner primary schools provides essential items for children to prevent them from dropping out of school.

  • 58K

    and we have supported 57,530 students to go to secondary school - CAMFED provides holistic support, that might include school or exam fees, uniforms, sanitary wear, books, pens, bikes, boarding fees or disability aids.

  • 3.9K

    CAMFED Malawi partners with 3,901 schools - We work in genuine partnership with government schools to help improve the learning environment for all students.

CAMFED Malawi provided input into the development of the National Strategy on Ending Child Marriages, and worked closely with the Ministry of Gender, Children, Disability and Social Welfare to convene a national meeting to develop a plan of implementation. We also supported the formation of a national by-laws framework to prevent child marriage, and were invited by the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology to join a task force on the National Girls’ Education Strategy.

Importantly, the young women leaders in the CAMFED Association of graduates are now at the forefront of tackling child marriage in their communities, working with schools, parents, education authorities, traditional leaders, social workers and the police to catalyze action for vulnerable girls.

Communities taking action

Together with CAMFED Association leaders, we catalyze the activism of CAMFED Champions in our partner communities to support more vulnerable children to go to primary and secondary school.

  • 905K

    Since 2009, 905,250 students have been supported to go to school by CAMFED Association members and community initiatives.

  • 591K

    Of these, 590,892 students have been supported to go to school directly by CAMFED Association members. Often using profits from their businesses, CAMFED Association members support on average 3 more children to go to school - multiplying the impact of their education.

  • 314K

    and 314,358 students have been supported to go to primary and secondary school through community initiatives. This includes parents, teachers, education officials and traditional leaders, who rally resources to support even more children to go to school.

  • 35K

    Our movement in Malawi has grown to 34,673 CAMFED Association members helping to form the largest network of its kind in Africa. Young women educated with CAMFED support spearhead our programs and help more vulnerable children to go to school.

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Thank you to our generous recent donors

Together we are breaking the cycle of poverty


Kelsy Hoerauf $25

Cynthia Brahaney $31.9

Cynthia Marcy $13

Jaya Mangra $16.1

Sophie Underwood $79.2

Julie Grau $13

Brenda Wilton $13

Robert Genovese $63.4

Sharon Arrindell $5.6

Sue Durham £52.2

Jim Ahern £12.7

Jessica Atkins $26.6

Patricia A Alshabazz $5

Andrew Thomas $20