In celebration of Prince Harry’s birthday, he and Meghan Markle have donated $130,000 to CAMFED, a pan-African nonprofit that supports the education of young women and girls.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex decided to match the contributions of their fanbase, the Sussex Squad, who started a fundraising campaign in July to honor Meghan's birthday on Aug. 4 and Harry’s birthday on Sept. 15.
So far the campaign has raised nearly $260,000, enough to support 113 young African women through a year of technical and vocational training.
“No better way to celebrate what really matters,” Meghan and Harry wrote in a message accompanying their donation. “Thank you to everyone who donated.”
Poverty remains the most important factor for determining whether a girl can access an education. Families living in poverty often have to sacrifice their kids’ education in order to provide for other basic needs, and are also more likely to send boys to school than girls.
Globally, 132 million girls are out of school, including more than 34 million of primary-school age, according to UNICEF. In sub-Saharan Africa, the region that has the highest rates of education exclusion, 23% of all girls and 19% of all boys are out of school.
Since its founding in 1993, CAMFED has helped more than 4.1 million children go to school across Ghana, Malawi, Tanzania, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. It has also allowed more than 7 million students to benefit from an improved educational environment through ensuring child protection, offering study support, and providing educational resources.
The organization views girls’ education as the starting point for social change. Through expanding girls’ education, CAMFED aims to create a new generation of young female leaders who can become role models within their communities, contribute to the economy, and support more girls through school.
“Your gift can help us send more high school graduates to training colleges,” Angie Murimirwa, CAMFED’s executive director in Africa, said in a video message to the Sussex Squad. “As engineers, bricklayers, climate-smart farmers, vets, and nurses, my sisters will be even more powerful role models in their communities, working together to change the status of women, showing what an education unlocks, and using their profits to support more girls through school.”
Investing in education, especially for women and girls, has far-reaching impacts that can improve the health and wealth of entire nations. Girls will earn up to 25% more per year of secondary school, and will reinvest nearly all of their earnings in their families, according to CAMFED. Studies have also shown the impact of education in lowering the rates of HIV infection and child mortality, and even in combating climate change.
Meghan and Harry have made girls’ education one of their main causes as a royal couple. For her first speech as the Duchess of Sussex, Meghan spoke on the importance of education and female empowerment. She also announced a grant to support female educators at the University of the South Pacific in Suva, Fiji, where she was speaking.
“Everyone should be afforded the opportunity to receive the education they want, but more importantly the education they have the right to receive,” she said in her speech. “And for women and girls in developing countries, this is vital ... When girls are given the right tools to succeed, they can create incredible futures, not only for themselves but also for those around them.”
Since then, Meghan and Harry have continued to be vocal and active advocates on this topic, and have developed strong relationships with organizations that support girls’ education, such as CAMFED and the Association of Commonwealth Universities (ACU), which offers scholarships to children around the world.
In April 2019, fans of the royal couple started using the hashtag #GlobalSussexBabyShower to celebrate Meghan’s pregnancy while launching an international initiative for people to donate to charity organizations — including CAMFED — in the royal baby’s name.