The Campaign for Female Education (CAMFED) is a non-profit social enterprise working to educate girls in sub-Saharan Africa.
An estimated 24 million girls in sub-Saharan Africa cannot afford to go to school, a problem that will have lifelong consequences for them. Studies have found that girls with secondary education earn up to 25% more money than uneducated girls, are three times less likely to become HIV positive, and have children who are 40% more likely to live past the age of five.
What CAMFED Does
CAMFED seeks to solve this problem with a unique, community-based program that offers long-term assistance and support to girls selected by members of the local community as being most in need of help.
CAMFED begins its assistance in the elementary years, with a Safety Net Fund for each of the elementary school in their network. This fund is used in emergency situations to prevent a student from dropping out of school due to lack of money. The fund can also be used to purchase teaching supplies.
At the secondary school level, when school costs rise substantially in many parts of the region, CAMFED provides financial assistance in the form of assistance with school fees, uniforms, books, and supplies, and covers room and board costs for girls who live too far from school to walk. Girls may also receive individualized assistance to help solve specific family problems preventing them from staying or succeeding in school. For example, the family of a girl whose widowed mother spent weeks away from home tending the family’s small plot of land 18 kilometers away, leaving her oldest daughter in charge of the three younger children, received a bicycle so the mother could travel to and from the field every day, instead of spending a full day walking there. As a result of this long-term, customized support, more than 90% of CAMFED’s girls go on to graduate from the program.
CAMFED also provides scholarships for girls interested in continuing their educations at the university level. Graduates of the secondary education program are also offered business training through CAMFED’s Seed Money program, which teaches economic skills and offers microfinance grants and loans to help young women start their own business.
Many of these classes are taught by members of CAMA, the CAMFED Association, an organization of CAMFED graduates which now includes more than 14,000 women across Africa. CAMA members give back to the program and their local communities by activities such as providing business training and mentoring to their fellow graduates, serving as Community Health Trainers to raise awareness of HIV/AIDS, and donating to support other girls through school.
CAMFED’s impact has been significant. Since its founding in 1993, CAMFED has helped improve the school environment for more than 1,000,000 children in Ghana, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Zambia, and Malawi, provided scholarships for more than 40,000 girls to finish high school, and helped more than 700 girls attend college. CAMFED’s microfinance program has trained more than 10,000 women in business skills and helped more than 7,000 women start or expand businesses. Through CAMA, CAMFED has also trained more than 1,500 community health activists.
What You Can Do
CAMFED founder Ann Cotton started her campaign for girls’ education with a bake sale! Today, CAMFED offers a variety of unique ways to support the organization’s great work in Africa, including marathons and triathalons, film screenings, and memorial gifts.