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Meet our sisterhood of 178,000 change makers – a new generation of women leaders, at the forefront of a global movement for girls’ education.

We are the CAMFED Association (CAMA), Africa’s largest and fastest-growing peer support and leadership network of young women activists educated with CAMFED support, now spearheading CAMFED’s programs.

We share a background of poverty and exclusion, and an unstoppable determination to ensure that every girl secures her right to go to school, learn and thrive, and can become an independent, influential woman.

We are deeply committed to ‘plowing back’ the benefits of our education into our communities – quite literally, because many of us run farming businesses and practice climate-smart agriculture!

We support each other, and capitalize on our education by passing on our learning and expertise to many more girls and young women in our communities. We are big sisters and role models to girls, providing the social support they need to do well in school and beyond. And we are looked up to as business leaders, creating jobs and using some of our profits to support more vulnerable children to succeed.

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What makes the CAMFED Association such a powerful force for change?

We are organized into elected committees from the district to national level, with an infrastructure designed to effectively share knowledge, skills and resources.

We connect with each other to overcome rural isolation, and exchange experience, expertise and opportunities, joining hands to make sure many more children get the chance we got to build a brighter future.

Partnering with school, local and traditional authorities, we galvanize our communities into action for vulnerable girls.

Among our CAMFED Association sisters are teachers, entrepreneurs, lawyers, doctors, nurses, social workers, climate-smart agriculture specialists and local political leaders, all with a strong and intimate understanding of the barriers to girls’ education. We know how to dismantle those barriers, and rally everyone in our communities to do the same.

Our Origins

The CAMFED Association was formed in July 1998 when 400 recent school graduates from rural Zimbabwe came together to discuss what their futures would look like. Some of them were still wearing their school uniforms – the only presentable clothes they owned. Most were daunted as they looked at a future with limited opportunities for women like us. 

But as they discussed their challenges, they found strength in their shared background of exclusion, and expressed their deep commitment to making sure every girl gets the chance to go to school and determine her own future. They discovered that together they could lead the change they wanted to see, for themselves and their communities.

Those who were there back then — Angeline Murimirwa, CAMFED’s Executive Director, Faith Nkala, National Director of CAMFED Zimbabwe, and Fiona Mavhinga, Executive Adviser, CAMFED Association, among them — could never have imagined how our sisterhood would grow in size and influence. 

Today, as the leaders at the forefront of CAMFED’s movement for girls’ education, we’re working with local and global leaders to bring about lasting change in our countries, in Africa, and across the world.

Learn from women leaders

Do you believe in the power of sisterhood and collective action? Then read and watch our stories to get closer to our personal experiences, to better understand the hurdles girls and young women continue to face, and to find out what we're doing about it. It's time to fuel up with hope and inspiration, because a better world is possible!

Screenshot of the video “What does the CAMFED Association Mean to you?”

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What does the CAMFED Association (CAMA) mean to you?

As a sisterhood we support each other, give back to our communities, and help more vulnerable children go to school. Here are some of us explaining what the CAMFED Association (CAMA) means to us.


CAMA means the world to me, it means everything to meBold sisterhood, care for one another, respect and commitment.”

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StoryTanzania

Aida

Although her childhood was marred by tragedy and poverty, today our sister Aida is blazing a trail for marginalized women and girls across Tanzania – she was the first CAMFED Association member in the country to qualify as a teacher, but not the last!


“A dream you dream alone is a dream, but a dream you dream together is realistic.”

 

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StoryZambia

Dorcas

The chance to go to school and study sustainable agriculture changed everything for Dorcas, who just designed a climate-smart aquaponics system, and will train farmers to adopt sustainable agriculture practices, improving resilience to climate change.


I realized I could actually contribute more through agriculture than any other sector, and I was determined to reduce hunger in my community.”

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StoryZimbabwe

Talent

Talent lost her father when she was eight years old. There was no money for secondary school until CAMFED stepped in. Talent excelled, and today she is a medical doctor, saving lives in difficult circumstances in a remote malaria-prone district of Zimbabwe.


“I have fulfilled my vow to bring a smile to my mother’s face always. The once poor woman is now a doctor’s mother. My son will not be a CAMFED client.”

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StoryMalawi

Rose

Orphaned at a young age, Rose grew up to make her grandparents proud, taking on leadership roles in the CAMFED Association, and training young women Learner Guides. Rose galvanizes her community in support of girls’ education and against child marriage.


I have ended many child marriages, working with traditional leaders in my community. I will help more children, assisting them with their basic needs.

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StoryGhana

Cindy

Cindy had a bittersweet childhood. After losing her father, her future was uncertain until she received support to finish school. Cindy is now studying medicine at university and runs a climate-smart business, bringing nutrition to her community.


If you are discouraged or need help, you know that a CAMFED Association member is close by and can help you.”

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StoryMalawi

Luwiza

As one of the most marginalized girls in her community, Luwiza was identified by a committee to receive a holistic package of support from CAMFED. An active member in the CAMFED Association (CAMA), Luwiza was soon elected into a leadership position.


Being in CAMA means having sympathy and having the capability to help others. I am seen as a role model, which makes me humble, and spurs me on.

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StoryZambia

Tisiyenji

Once on the verge of dropping out of school, today Tisiyenji runs a bakery and several other businesses, has coordinated CAMFED Learner Guides and COVID-19 action, and mentors and supports vulnerable children.


I am now a role model to my family and community, because I’ve gone that extra mile to bring in money for the whole family.”

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StoryTanzania

Sophia

Overcoming a dificult childhood, Sophia is now a CAMFED Learner Guide, an entrepreneur, and a pillar of her community. She uses her life experiences and her own resources to support and mentor many more girls at her local school.


The CAMFED Association means changing from depending on others to self-reliance and abolition of poverty.”

Every day, as CAMFED Association members, we:

Identify vulnerable girls for support

We are part of the community committees that select girls for school-going support from CAMFED, and help identify girls ‘invisible’ to school authorities — victims of child marriage or abuse, for example. 


Support girls to go to school and learn with confidence

Each CAMFED Association member, on average, financially supports three more girls to go to school out of her own pocket, and offers social support and mentoring to many more. 


Deliver life skills and well-being lessons

We volunteer in our local schools as Learner Guides – peer educators and role models, delivering the My Better World life skills and well-being curriculum to improve school retention and learning outcomes. And we volunteer as Transition Guides to support graduates on the route to independence and leadership.


Advise, develop and innovate programs

Our experience, skills and expertise drives CAMFED’s program development and delivery. We are part of CAMFED’s Executive team, Boards and committees. Nothing about us without us!


Help develop our communities

We seize training opportunities in subjects like health, financial literacy, leadership, entrepreneurship, and climate-smart farming methods, and we cascade that expertise within our Association and to our wider communities.


Monitor CAMFED’s impact

We use technology to help monitor CAMFED’s programs, ensuring that girls receive their entitlements (their school uniforms, notebooks, pens and sanitary pads, for example), and recording data like school attendance and performance.


Link families to schools and services

Because we come from the communities we serve, we are trusted by families and can provide a critical link between students, families, schools and services. We help establish groups of parents which in turn help build school infrastructure, monitor dorms, cook meals, and provide love and financial support to send more children to school.


Run businesses and create jobs

As business owners and entrepreneurs, we are working to break the cycle of poverty by providing for our extended families, financing our own further education, creating new jobs and opportunities, and supporting more children in school.

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Our Multiplier Effect

Our sister Pearl from rural Ghana is a leader in the CAMFED Association, an entrepreneur, a mentor to vulnerable school children, and a role model in her community. She works with traditional leaders, school authorities and families to address poverty and gender inequality and bring about lasting change in her community. Meet Pearl as she tells the story of Prospera, one of the many girls we’ve identified and supported to return to school with our own resources. 

Our sisters on the global stage

We have personally experienced many of the world’s biggest challenges — exclusion from education, gender-based violence, early marriage, hunger, unemployment, illness, disability, and the devastating effects of climate change. That personal knowledge and understanding is a powerful basis on which to engage with local and traditional leaders, as well as global decision‐makers, to change the status quo for good.

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NewsGlobal

Angie Murimirwa’s TED Talk: Revolutionizing education through social interest

Learn about our revolutionary concept of ‘social interest,’ an approach to lending which gives young African school graduates — considered ‘unbankable’ — access to finance. In turn, they pay forward their interest in service to vulnerable students and exponentially multiply the impact of their loan.

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NewsGlobal

African women leading climate action - CAMFED’s UN award at COP25

CAMFED was honored with the UN Global Climate Action Award 2019.

 

Our sister Esnath Divasoni, a CAMFED Association leader and trainer of Agriculture Guides in Zimbabwe, accepted the award on behalf of our entire movement.

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NewsGlobal

Grassroots leadership benefitting girls, communities, and our planet

In March 2021, members of our network of women leaders represented our movement at a number of high-profile, international events.

They highlighted the importance of grassroots expertise and action to address the urgent challenges girls in our communities face in the wake of the pandemic.

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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,  Angeline Murimirwa and Lucy Lake accepted the Yidan Prize for Education Development on behalf of everyone in our movement and joined the newly-formed Council of Luminaries. 

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NewsGlobal

The CAMFED Association joins the First Lady: “We are ready to lead the charge”

On the Day of the African Child in 2015, Fiona Mavhinga, one of the founding members of our CAMFED Association, joined the First Lady of the United States, Michelle Obama, at a school in London to discuss just what it takes to support girls to go to school and learn when they get there.

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NewsGlobal

Michelle Obama welcomes CAMFED to the Girls Opportunity Alliance

Three years later, girls’ education champion and former First Lady Michelle Obama marked International Day of the Girl (October 11th) with the launch of the Girls Opportunity Alliance, to which she welcomed the young women leaders in our CAMFED Association across Africa.

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NewsUnited Kingdom

Unleashing potential with inclusive education

On July 25, 2018, Primrose Mandishona, disability activist and a founding member of the CAMFED Association in Zimbabwe, joined the UK Secretary of State for International Development and addressed delegates from around the world at the Global Disability Summit.

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NewsGhana

CAMFED Association members recognized with Humanitarian Awards in Ghana

Three CAMFED Association members – Kate Wodenya Amenyikor, Jennifer De-Graft Ninson and Angelina Anita Ama Annobil – were recognized for their activism in promoting quality, equitable education at the Humanitarian Awards Ghana. 

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NewsGhana

Earth Day 2021 - Education is Climate Action

Listen in as a BBC podcast visits Esnath’s cricket farm in Zimbabwe on Earth Day. Meet Miriam, who is raising productivity while preventing soil erosion in rural Malawi, and demonstrating the link between education and climate action. Explore articles about our work in Cleopatras Worldwide and by Brookings.

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NewsGlobal

Women’s leadership for girls’ education: Celebrating IWD 2021

On International Women’s Day, CAMFED’s global community showed up to celebrate our activism as we tackle the learning crisis exacerbated by COVID-19. We underscored the pressing issues that we choose to challenge each day, so that girls can learn and thrive. 

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FilmUnited Kingdom

Angeline Murimirwa at Skoll World Forum 2018

The CAMFED Association’s first Chair, Angeline Murimirwa, discusses her epiphany moment with 400 other girls supported by CAMFED in 1998 when they realized their collective power and created our CAMFED Association of women leaders (CAMA). 

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NewsZimbabwe

Africa Youth Day 2020: Vee Kativhu with Linda Bhebhe and Natasha Mabuza

Zimbabwean-born Varaidzo (Vee) Kativhu, award-winning education content creator and social mobility ambassador, met up with CAMFED Association leaders Linda Bhebhe and Natasha Mabuza via zoom, discussing mentorship, leadership, and the importance of role models for girls’ education.

CAMFED Association leaders in the media

We need young women experts to be seen and heard, so we appreciate journalists who put in the time to listen and learn. Here's just a small selection of earned media:

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Ms.: "I felt my village raising me"

In her Op Ed in the American feminist Ms. magazine, CAMFED Association member Judith from Zimbabwe describes her transformation from an orphan seeking solace in a tree near her school to an activist for social justice,  ensuring that girls stay safe and keep learning.

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Sky News: Climate action through girls' education and women's leadership

Climate-smart agriculture expert and CAMFED Association member Harriet Cheelo from Zimbabwe joins Catherine Boyce to discuss a feminist approach to climate action on the Sky News podcast.

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NPR: Eliza from Malawi on helping girls stay focused during the pandemic

Like thousands of her CAMFED Association sisters, Eliza Chikoti has been stepping in to help girls in her community navigate tough personal choices and prioritize their education.

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Devex: Forget's story of sustainable entrepreneurship in Zimbabwe

Devex covers Forget’s rise from a vulnerable girl dropping out of school, to a university-educated climate activist, running a business that helps cut food waste and fight hunger.

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Forbes: The CAMFED Association's Olympic-style perseverance

Kim thinks our Sisterhood exemplifies the Olympic mindset, quoting Angie Murimirwa: “Whereas at one time, we may have been dismissed for our background of rural poverty, we are now sought out as experts on the challenges girls face. “

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New York Times: Nick Kristof talks to Angie Murimirwa as CAMFED wins Holiday Impact Prize

New York Times columnist and Pulitzer Prize winner Nicholas Kristof selected CAMFED as the Grand Prize winner of his Holiday Impact Prize in 2020, and caught up with our Executive Director Angie Murimirwa, founding member of the CAMFED Association.

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Devex: Decolonizing aid and mindsets by getting behind Africa's young leaders

In their seminal Op Ed, Dzingai Mutumbuka and Vongai Nyahunzvi point to sustainable initiatives that take a ‘people first’ approach and develop promising African leaders, who develop their communities – like all of us!

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NewAfrican: Rethinking the African Dream with Bervelyn from Ghana

This special issue of NewAfrican magazine was guest edited by six Mastercard Foundation Scholars, including CAMFED Association member and journalist Bervelyn from Ghana, whose passion for journalism started in early childhood.

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