Girls’ education is heralded as one of the greatest opportunities of our time to tackle the biggest global challenges, including population growth and climate change. Yet poverty denies millions of girls education. The highest rates of exclusion are in Sub-Saharan Africa.
If we are to unlock the unparalleled returns for the benefit of humanity that girls’ education can bring, the world needs a new solution—one that ensures millions of more girls enroll in school, enabling them to capitalize on their education and step forward as leaders.
SISTER creates post-school opportunities for young women in Sub-Saharan Africa, linked to their leadership in supporting marginalized girls in school. The result is an ever-multiplying number of girls who join school, succeed, and then lead change for the younger generation. Within five years, SISTER will support 5 million marginalized girls in secondary school and open the gates to millions more.
CAMFED Internationalwebsite: https://www.camfed.org
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Over the past year, the speed and success with which we have pivoted to provide support to communities hard hit by the COVID-19 pandemic have been vital. Lockdowns and school closures put already vulnerable rural girls at higher risk of school dropout, abuse, and early marriage. Our decentralized, community-led infrastructure, with the young women of the CAMFED Association on the front line, shifted quickly from school- to community-based support, using low-tech monitoring tools to track girls' welfare, identifying safeguarding risks, and making appropriate referrals.
We also ran socially distanced study groups. This continuity of welfare and learning support meant that we saw exceptionally high rates of return to school among our clients—more than 94 percent across all five countries. In Malawi, where comparative data is available, the return rate of 98 percent among our clients was 20 percentage points above the national average.