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Supporting girls to learn and lead in Malawi

CAMFED Malawi was launched in 2009, and by 2021 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

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When you educate a girl child, you educate the world.

“Being a girl, I feel proud of myself because I know the saying ‘when you educate a girl child you educate the world’ – it is true. Many girls like myself are being educated with help from CAMFED in Malawi.  I’m seeing that girls are now confident enough to do what they want to do. Some are trained in leadership, others in entrepreneurship, and they are developing their communities. I’m making a difference to other people and I know that in the future I’ll achieve something big with my fellow girls in my community. With help from CAMFED I can see that many girls are realizing their potential.”

Elizabeth Teleka, CAMFED Association 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)

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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....

  • 226K

    supported 226,164 students to go to primary and secondary school using donor funds.

  • 177K

    Of these, 176,533 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.

  • 50K

    and we have supported 49,631 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.

  • 1.1K

    CAMFED Malawi partners with 1,139 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.

  • 511K

    Since 2009, 511,218 students have been supported to go to school by CAMFED Association members and community initiatives.

  • 321K

    Of these, 320,864 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.

  • 190K

    and 190,354 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.

  • 29.4K

    Our movement in Malawi has grown to 29,385 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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With the profits from my business I take good care of myself and my child. My child is healthy and I am set to give him a good education. I also support my dad, mom and siblings, as well as supporting other family members and needy children. I am also supporting a learner at a boarding secondary school, and I buy one-off small items for other students.

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Together we are breaking the cycle of poverty

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