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19 October, 2017 - 11:23 By Tony Quested

Government doubles Cambridge aid for under-threat girls in Africa

Fiona Camfed

The UK Government is doubling the value of cash raised by Camfed in Cambridge up until January 10 in a fast-track bid to rescue more young African girls from a depressing cycle of child birth and poverty.

Camfed has secured UK Aid Match funding for its proven education initiative but now has less than three months to exploit the opportunity. It urges individuals to go online to pledge donations well ahead of the January 10 deadline so the opportunity – and the lives of hundreds of young girls – is not wasted.

Camfed’s programme has already salvaged the stolen childhoods of generations of young girls who might otherwise have gone straight from primary school to premature marriage to a man three times their age and inevitable child birth.

In some areas of sub-Saharan Africa as many as six girls out of 10 are married before they are 18. Six out of 10 are at risk of becoming child brides. Every minute 28 girls become child brides.

Locked in a cycle of poverty and hopelessness, they are at grave risk of HIV/AIDS, rape and abuse and serious complications during pregnancy and childbirth. Poverty and inequality drive this injustice, and the practice perpetuates this vicious cycle. 

Camfed posterThe thrust of the new Camfed campaign starkly spells out the alternatives for girls in Africa: ‘Doctor, world leader or child bride?’ asks one poster. ‘Lawyer, entrepreneur or child bride?’ challenges another. There are many other iterations on the same theme.

Camfed has a number of initiatives under the umbrella of improving the odds  and ensuring that poverty no longer shapes girls’ futures. Camfed CEO Lucy Lake summed it up at the Government launch of the UK Aid Match initiative. She said: “Imagine your daughter graduating from primary school into marriage and motherhood when she herself is still a child, her life stopped when it is just beginning. 

“Where extreme poverty leaves families with little choice and traditional practices discriminate against girls and young women it feels like an intractable problem. Together we can make sure that a girl is married to her future, not a man three times her age.”

While this campaign has been waged in Africa, it resonates across the planet wherever deprivation or discrimination thrive. You can play a vital part in improving girls’ lot' by donating at

With the Government doubling all donations from individual residents this could be the perfect cause for your staff fundraising campaigns. To share ideas or get inspiration, please get in touch with Camfed’s Ellen Grant – contact [at] or telephone 01223 221063. The Government will not match donations from companies but will double the value of gifts from individual employees – and any other individuals for that matter.

Business Weekly’s pledge of print and online publicity helped Camfed secure the UK Aid Match funding and Cambridge University’s Judge Business School has also thrown its global muscle behind the campaign.

The Wo+Men’s Leadership Centre at Cambridge Judge Business School was quick to join forces with Camfed. Cambridge Judge Business School will support Camfed as a communications partner in spreading the word about its #UnlockFutures appeal.

The plan is to unleash the power of young women like Camfed alumna Alice, who grew up in Samfya District, Zambia. Once destined to be a child bride, she now works with schools and communities to keep girls in school and out of child marriage, personally supporting 10 girls to go to school, and looking after two orphans. 

The powers of the young women who have completed their education with Camfed’s support come from their lived experience, their deep roots in their communities, and the respect they command from girls and families alike. As ‘GirlGuardians’, these real-life superheroes will be equipped with additional knowledge to deliver sexual and reproductive health and life skills training, career guidance and financial literacy sessions.
Each GirlGuardian will reach 80 vulnerable girls in her local school and advocate for girls’ education and against child marriage with families and traditional leaders. 

Sucheta Nadkarni, director, and Tracey Horn, associate director, at the Wo+Men's Leadership Centre at Cambridge Judge said: “Cambridge Judge Business School Wo+Men’s Leadership Centre is extremely proud to partner with Camfed, the Campaign for Female Education, in its objective to end child marriage in sub-Saharan Africa through education and the leadership of young women ‘GirlGuardians’ in disadvantaged rural communities. 

“We’ll be reaching out to our network and beyond to spread the word and support Camfed’s transformational work.”

• Photograph (top of page): Fiona Mavhinga, graduate of the Camfed programme and now a leader of the initiative in Africa.

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