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Britain's Prince Harry and Meghan Markle watch a performance by a Welsh choir Cardiff Castle in Cardiff, Wales, Jan. 18, 2018.
Ben Birchall/Pool Photo/AP
AdvocacyEducation

Meghan & Harry Are Shouting Out This 140,000-Member Girls Education Network in Africa

Why Global Citizens Should Care 
Educating girls is vital to achieving many of the UN's Global Goals and ending extreme poverty by 2030, including Goal 4 for education and Goal 5 for gender equality — as well as numerous other goals that can't be achieved while half of the global population is being held back because of their gender. As this alumnae network shows, educate one girl and you'll educate many. Join the movement by taking action here to support education and gender equality. 

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have just shared the highlights of their family tour of southern Africa on Instagram — which they used to help lend their platform to some amazing organisations working across the continent. 

The pair, with baby Archie, toured through South Africa, Botswana, Angola, and Malawi over 10 days. 

During the tour, they unveiled three new Queens Commonwealth Canopy projects to protect forests and plant trees, and worked with the British government to announce investment of £8 million in technology and skills in the region. 

Prince Harry also helped highlight the invaluable work being done by the Halo Trust clearing landmines in Angola, visiting the former minefield crossed by his mother, Princess Diana, 22 years ago.

Meghan Markle — a long-time advocate for the empowerment of women and girls — also announced gender grants from the Association of Commonwealth Universities to improve access to higher education for women, as well as four scholarships for students studying across the Commonwealth. 

has come to an end, but The Duke and Duchess have had the opportunity to look back on an incredible 10 days through South Africa, Botswana, Angola and Malawi. Thank you for following along! Their Royal Highness’s journey took them 15,000 miles across southern Africa where they we’re greeted by so many amazing people along the way. They witnessed the great partnership between the UK and Africa, met local community groups, leaders, and youth and elders, who all imparted knowledge and inspiration. On their final day of the tour, The Duchess said: “Please know that you have all given us so much inspiration, so much hope - and above all, you have given us joy.” • During their tour, The Duke and Duchess unveiled three new Queens Commonwealth Canopy projects, protecting forests and planting trees, and worked with the British Government to announce investment of £8m in technology and skills in the region. The Duke traveled to Angola to focus on the ongoing mission to rid the world of landmines, an extension of the work that was pioneered by his mother, Diana, Princess of Wales. The Duchess announced gender grants from the Association of Commonwealth Universities to improve access to higher education for women, as well as four scholarships for students studying across the commonwealth. Throughout this trip they were able to join an important and essential conversation about the rights of women and girls - not isolated to Southern Africa, but also globally. Throughout this visit, The Duke and Duchess were struck by the spirit and generosity from every community they visited. Speaking to young entrepreneurs in Tembisa, a township in Johannesburg, The Duke said: “As I raise my own son, I want to make sure that what I’ve learned here – the value of the natural world, the value of community and friendship – is something that I can pass on to him.” • Thank you to everyone who supported from afar, and those who have followed along the way! We hope you enjoy this wrap up video to the tune of a wonderful song by The Soweto Gospel Choir, a favourite of The Duke and Duchess. Video ©️ SussexRoyal

A post shared by The Duke and Duchess of Sussex (@sussexroyal) on

And as part of the tour, Meghan and Harry also met with some of the tens of thousands of women who make up a 140,000-strong alumnae network that works to support schoolgirls through their secondary school education. 

Harry joined the group in person at the Nalikule College of Education in Lilongwe, Malawi’s capital, while Meghan joined via Skype call from Johannesburg. 

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Meghan praised the “valuable and vital” work that the 20-year-old CAMA alumnae network is doing, supported by the Campaign for Female Education (Camfed), across Zimbabwe, Zambia, Ghana, Tanzania, and Malawi.

“These positive female role models, leaders, and entrepreneurs are working to lift their communities out of poverty,” read the caption on an Instagram post from the SussexRoyal account, now liked nearly 190,000 times.

“Along with support from the Queens Commonwealth Trust, CAMA and Camfed are changing the lives of many young girls through education and empowerment,” the caption continued. “As president and vice-president of the QCT, the Duke and Duchess both believe in the power of education to empower young girls and change society as a whole.” 

Hello Malawi 🇲🇼, it’s South Africa 🇿🇦 calling! Another incredible day on #RoyalVisitAfrica as The Duke arrived in Malawi, with The Duchess joining him via Skype to speak to women and girls who went to school with the support of CAMA and @camfed. Afterwards, The Duke was able to meet President Peter Mutharika and thank him for the wonderful welcome in his country. Today, The Duchess of Sussex linked up with Nalikule College, Lilongwe, to join The Duke and an amazing group of women who attended school through the help @camfed and its 20-year-old alumni network CAMA. These CAMA women are part of a major network across Africa, which has 140,000 members and 17,500 in Malawi alone. These positive female role models, leaders and entrepreneurs, are working to lift their communities out of poverty. Money distributed by CAMA goes directly to each of their alumni, who then use their own resources to support another three children to attend school. Along with support from the @Queens_Commonwealth_Trust, CAMA and @camfed are changing the lives of many young girls though education and empowerment. As President and Vice President of the QCT, The Duke and Duchess both believe in the power of education to empower young girls, and change society as a whole. #RoyalVisitMalawi #RoyalVisitSouthAfrica Video©️SussexRoyal

A post shared by The Duke and Duchess of Sussex (@sussexroyal) on

Through Camfed, girls and young women receive practical and financial support — for example, paying for school feeds, uniforms, and school books — to see them through secondary school. 

The CAMA alumnae network was launched in 1998 by a group of 400 former Camfed bursary students who, after graduating from school themselves, wanted to continue helping other girls access education. 

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In the past four years, Camfed has supported over 959,900 girls at secondary school — 40.8% of these through the CAMA alumnae; 35.8% through community support; and 23.4% through donor funds. 

With the support of UK-aid funding from the UK’s Department for International Development, meanwhile, Camfed has provided bursaries for more than 35,000 girls since 2011 to attend secondary school. 

The women who make up the CAMA network are brought together by a “common background of acute poverty and a belief in the power of education,” according to Camfed. 

And each CAMA member, on average, supports two more girls to go to secondary school. 

“Members share huge determination and resilience against a background of rural poverty and marginalisation,” says Camfed. “They are deeply committed to ‘plowing back’ the benefits of their education into their communities.” 

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The young women, connected through mobile technology, “overcome rural isolation, help build each other’s lives, and use their experience and expertise to support many more vulnerable children to stay in school, learn, and succeed.” 

Through education, the network is also helping to protect girls and young women facing other issues like child marriage and early pregnancy — both of which present serious obstacles in ensuring girls are able to complete their education. 

Members of the network are teachers, business entrepreneurs, lawyers, doctors, social workers, and local political leaders, and all of them have a “strong and intimate understanding of the barriers to girls’ education, putting themselves at the forefront of dismantling those barriers, and rallying everyone in their communities to do the same,” says Camfed. 

Just one of the young women now leading the alumnae network’s efforts is Alice, from Zambia. 

Alice was destined to be a child bride at 14, until Camfed and her community stepped in to support her through school. 

Another is Selina, from Ghana, who survived on less than one meal a day and had to sell charcoal to get a notebook or pencil for primary school. Without Camfed’s support, she had no hope of finishing her education. Now, however, she’s a CAMA District chairperson and peer education.

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“My greatest achievements are when I am able to send an out-of-school child back to school,” Selina told Camfed.

Another member of the network is Talent, from Zimbabwe, who lost her father when she was eight years old, leaving her mother struggling to support her. Despite going to school barefoot and without a uniform, she achieved the highest grades in her primary school.

Without Camfed, there wouldn’t have been any money for Talent to go to secondary school. But with the charity’s support, Talent completed her education and is now a doctor, saving lives in a remote malaria-prone district of Zimbabwe. 

“I have fulfilled my view to bring a smile to my mother’s face always,” Talent told Camfed. “The once poor woman is now a doctor’s mother.” 

WOW! What an incredible reunion between CAMFED Alumnae (CAMA) and Prince Harry today in Malawi! We are so thrilled to have the opportunity to update him on CAMA’s achievements since we last met last year AND to have The Duchess of Sussex join us via Skype. @murimirwaangie told The Duchess of Sussex: “Since you yourself were a young girl you have advocated for women as equal beings with the power to make lasting change, and I know this is something you will instil in Archie. I always think of a saying in my local language, Shona “Chinonzi rasa ndechirimumaoko kwete muropa.” It means “You can only be told to throw away what is in your hands, not what is in your blood.” The fact that you care, that you advocate, that you shine a light on this and always have done, means so much.” @queens_commonwealth_trust @sussexroyal #sussexroyaltour #royaltour #royaltourafrica #CAMAeffect #leadership #leader #empower #inspire #inspiration #partnership #equality #Africa #Malawi #girlseducation #education

A post shared by Campaign for Female Education (@camfed) on

Angie Murimirwa, Camfed’s executive director for Africa, reportedly told Meghan: “I always think of a saying in my local language, Shona: ‘Chinonzi rasa ndechirimumaoko kwete muropa.’ It means, ‘you can only be told to throw away what is in your hands, not what is in your blood.’” 

“The fact that you care, that you advocate, that you shine a light on this and always have done, means so much,” she said. 

Meghan added: “We’re just so proud as president and vice-president of the Queen’s Commonwealth Trust that we can support you in everything that you do because we cannot begin to express how valuable and vital that work is, we’re just incredibly proud to be part of it.”