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12 August, 2021 - 21:25 By Tony Quested

CAMFED wins global award and $2.5m funding

Female education pathfinder CAMFED, based in Cambridge UK and San Francisco, has scooped a global accolade along with $2.5 million funding.

Founded by Ann Cotton, CAMFED is revolutionising how girls’ education in Africa is delivered, and has been chosen as the 2021 Conrad N. Hilton Humanitarian Prize recipient.  

As the world’s largest annual humanitarian award presented to a non-profit organisation, the Hilton Humanitarian Prize recognises extraordinary contributions toward alleviating human suffering. 

“The jury’s selection of CAMFED as the recipient of the 2021 Hilton Humanitarian Prize speaks first and foremost to its community-led approach and to the power of investing in girls,” said Peter Laugharn, president and CEO of the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation. 

“CAMFED has revolutionised how girls’ education is delivered, tapping into local expertise in a way that is sustainable and scalable. 

“Further, the pandemic has had a catastrophic effect on families and girls, with estimates that 11 million girls may not return to school as a result of the crisis. The time for the global community to learn from this model is now.”

CAMFED was founded in 1993 in response to the scale of girls’ exclusion from education and in recognition of the transformative benefits that accrue when the right to education is secured for all girls. 

What began in Zimbabwe as a program supporting 32 girls in two schools has now become a movement that has already supported more than 4.8 million disadvantaged students in 6,787 schools across 163 districts in Ghana, Malawi, Tanzania, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

CAMFED’s model, which has been thoroughly tested and refined, provides financial and social support for girls to attend and thrive in primary and secondary school.

Post-school, CAMFED provides business training, finance, and support for young women to access higher education and employment opportunities, so that they can safely transition to a secure and fulfilling adulthood. 

Those joining the CAMFED Association, the pan-African peer support and leadership network, commit to mentoring and supporting each other, as well as the next generation, as they grow into respected role models in their communities, working to secure every child’s right to go to school, and change the status quo for girls for good.

The CAMFED Association, founded in 1998, now includes 178,000 young women who serve as mentors and trainers, work as teachers, health care workers, and climate-smart entrepreneurs, and each support with their own resources another three girls – on average – to go to school each year. 

Data compiled by CAMFED and others demonstrates significant improvements in school attendance and retention rates for girls supported by CAMFED, reduced school dropout rates, an increase in student learning outcomes, and an increase in the age of marriage and first-time birth.

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