CAMFED | 2023


Helping girls in Sub-Saharan Africa thrive in school — and beyond

In Sub-Saharan Africa, 95% of girls from marginalized families don’t complete secondary school — a reality that plays out at every stage of their life and is a driving force of poverty and injustice. CAMFED helps girls succeed in school — and supports them to transition into secure work and leadership.

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Girls’ education has been linked to a wide variety of societal benefits around health, equity and economic development, even the ability to combat climate change. But in rural Sub-Saharan Africa, many barriers prevent marginalized girls from staying in school as they reach adolescence — from the cost of school fees, uniforms and transportation to the fact that rural schools are often under-resourced, with teachers unequipped to counter the social-emotional drivers of dropout, such as low self-esteem and the prioritization of early marriage and motherhood. Even for the minority of girls who manage to beat the odds and complete their schooling, a dearth of opportunity awaits. They graduate into communities where there are limited opportunities and few female role models. All of these factors mean that women from marginalized backgrounds face enormous challenges in breaking out of cycles of poverty and inequality.

Big Idea

CAMFED has developed a proven model, led by young women once at the margins of society, that cuts through the complex web of factors undermining girls’ education. They engage with schools and communities to implement a comprehensive support system, where marginalized girls get not just financial and material support, but also holistic coaching that allows them to thrive. As girls graduate, CAMFED enables their transition into secure work, supporting them in starting businesses, and provides a platform for them to step up as leaders through the CAMFED Association alumni network, which leverages the power of graduates to support younger generations. Over the next six years, CAMFED will build on their momentum and ensure that 5 million marginalized girls have the support they need to succeed in secondary school and improve their life outcomes. And they will partner with governments to orient national school systems to adopt the model, accelerating the impact to many millions more.


By 2030, CAMFED will support 5 million girls to thrive in secondary school across Tanzania, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Ghana, Malawi and one additional country. They’ll do this by offering financial and comprehensive social and emotional support and doubling membership in the CAMFED Association, investing in new ways for this network to support students and graduates. But the heart of the plan will be to leverage the growing interest in improving secondary education among Sub-Saharan governments to encourage widespread adoption of the CAMFED model in schools. They are currently in the first stages of rolling out core components nationally in Tanzania and Zambia, and will work to secure agreements with more ministries of education, reaching the scale required for system-wide adoption. All in all, CAMFED will demonstrate the potential for replication across Sub-Saharan Africa — and inspire others around the globe to stand behind this network of young women leaders.

Why will it Succeed?

Since 1993, CAMFED has supported 1.6 million marginalized girls through secondary school, and partnered with a network of 7,000 government schools. Their model has led to a sharp uplift in school progression and completion for girls, with rates three times higher than in comparison schools. The program increases girls’ agency, with 95% reporting boosted self-esteem, and delays the age they marry and have children. And the CAMFED Association’s more than 254,000 members choose to support, on average, at least three other girls in their community to go to school each year. More than 23% of Association members have taken on leadership roles. This work is fueling an ever-growing fly-wheel of action for girls’ education, as women leaders support younger girls and engage with communities to tackle obstacles to their success.

Project Impact

Recent Updates

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Empowering African youth through education

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