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As we come up to Global Goals Week 2018 (22-29 September), we’re so proud of the educated young women who are showing, through their actions, how girls’ education is key to all the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

If you’re following Camfed’s #GirlsEdu4 campaign, you’ll have seen the facts, figures, and personal stories that demonstrate that keeping girls in school has a positive impact on issues ranging from poor health to climate change, gender inequality to hunger. Here are seven educated young women – representing thousands of activists in Camfed’s CAMA alumnae network – who are driving action on seven global goals, one for each day of the week:

Never has it been more important to deliver on girls’ education — as a human right, a matter of justice, and the best investment we can make for the economic development and stability of nations.

Fiona Mavhinga, CAMA Development Director

Mwamba pictured outside a school in rural Zambia

CAMA member Mwamba is bringing lasting change to her community with her business skills and philanthropy. (Photo: Camfed/Eliza Powell)

Mwamba: Creating local employment  (SDG1 – Poverty Eradication)

Mwamba comes from a rural community in Zambia. After being orphaned at a young age, her path to education was barred until Camfed stepped in.

She completed school and joined CAMA, where she learned leadership and enterprise skills. With the knowledge and confidence to start her own business, plus a small grant, Mwamba was able to open a salon and restaurant, where she provides employment for local people.

With the proceeds she also supports four orphaned children in their education. Thanks to Mwamba, her community is one step closer to eradicating poverty.

Vida:  Providing food for thought (SDG2 – Zero Hunger)

When Vida lost her father at a young age, she started missing school to work and help support the family. Still unable to raise enough to cover school fees, it was with Camfed’s support that Vida went on to finish her education, join CAMA and participate in entrepreneurship training.

Recognizing the need to scale-up the family’s farming business, Vida is now running a successful business selling rice, beans and a Ghanaian porridge blend. Vida is proud to be able to feed her whole family, and Vida’s mother told us:

“In all my years as a farmer, I hadn’t made a profit like I did last year working with my daughter. She is a role model.”

Vida at her family’s farm in rural Ghana

Vida has become a role model in her community after being able to make her family’s farm a viable business. (Photo: Camfed / ELMA Philanthropies)

CAMA leader Tamara in Malawi

Tamara is a proud CAMA leader in Malawi, where she see girls’ education saving lives. (Photo: Camfed)

Tamara:  Helping girls learn about their bodies (SDG3 – Good Health & Wellbeing)

Growing up in rural Malawi, Tamara saw the “pain and grief that comes with poverty” all around her. She explains:

“I was one of the lucky ones—the School Based Committee identified me for Camfed support, and I was able to complete my education. Without this support, I could have been a child bride. Or I could have been pregnant at 14. It happens to so many girls.”

Today as a CAMA leader, Tamara supports CAMA Learner Guides who provide sexual and reproductive health lessons and explain the danger of HIV/AIDS. These educated young women can make informed choices about their bodies and health, and help others do the same.

Nimatu:  Rallying community support for girls’ education (SDG4 – Quality Education)

Looking back on a difficult childhood in rural Ghana, Nimatu says: “I was determined to stay in school and achieve my goals. As the first born and only girl in my family, I saw myself as a candle that would brighten my family’s future.”

Today, she works with other CAMA members as a mentor, has founded her own girls’ club, The Changemakers Club, and has won the respect of male community leaders. Chief Iddrissu says:

“Nimatu is seen as somebody very important in our community. We are proud of her. She has let us know that girls’ education is important. Now everybody wants their girls to go to school.”

Nimatu in a school classroom where she mentors girls

Nimatu is looked up to by members of her community for her achievements. (Photo: Camfed/Eliza Powell)

Mary on her university campus in Tanzania

Mary was elected by her peers at university to speak out about women’s rights (Photo: Camfed/Patrick Hayes)

Mary: Fighting for girls’ and women’s rights (SDG5 – Gender Equality)

Before Mary was supported by Camfed, she had been sent home from secondary school because she could not pay the fees. Mary went on to become Head Girl at her school and help educate girls about the risks of HIV/AIDS.

At university she stepped up as a leader once more, speaking out on behalf of vulnerable young women at risk of sexual exploitation. She observed: “Girls fear to report their problems… But I thought, ‘Girls have rights and I have an ability. I should fight.’”

A girl like Mary,  once destined to drop out of school, be subject to early marriage, early pregnancy, and a short life of domestic toil, is now a leader of change.

Primrose: Advocating for children with disabilities (SDG10 – Reduced Inequalities)

Primrose was one of the first girls supported at school by Camfed and became a founding member of CAMA.

Although she suffered severe burns as a baby, which affected her posture, Primrose was determined not to let her disability stand in her way. After school, she tenaciously applied to college until she was eventually accepted and qualified as a rehabilitation technician.

Today she works in rural communities in Zimbabwe, offering holistic support to children with disabilities and their families. A passionate activist for inclusive education, Primrose has been a speaker at high level events including the Global Disability Summit in London in July 2018.

Primrose, a founding CAMA member, in Zimbabwe

Primrose works as a rehabilitation technician supporting children with disabilities (Photo: Camfed/Jon Pilch)

Esnath studies at Earth University, Costa Rica

Esnath is an advocate of climate-smart agriculture to benefit people and the planet (Photo: Camfed)

Esnath: Making the link between girls’ education and climate smart agriculture (SDG13 – Climate Action)

Like many families in rural Zimbabwe, Esnath’s parents relied on agriculture for their income. When her father lost his job on a commercial farm, she thought her education was over. But with support from Camfed, Esnath went on to excel at school and is studying Agricultural Science and Natural Resources Management at Earth University, Costa Rica.

When she graduates Esnath will bring back to her community knowledge of climate-smart agriculture and a passion for girls’ education. She says: “Having access to education gives girls and women more control over their lives. They tend to choose to have fewer children, reducing the pressure on the little resources available, and therefore reducing the effects of climate change.”

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