Director of CAMA Development, Lawyer and Founder of Camfed’s CAMA alumnae network
Fiona Mavhinga was one of the first young women who completed her education with Camfed’s support. Today, Fiona is a lawyer and leads on the strategic development of the Camfed Association (CAMA), a powerful pan-African network of educated young women leaders and philanthropists, whose membership grew to 100,000 in 2017.
Having experienced first-hand the vulnerability even of those young women who manage to complete secondary school – with no resources, and no employment opportunities available in rural areas - Fiona became a key founder of the CAMA network. Organised into elected committees from district to national level, CAMA has a robust mechanism offering for training and leadership opportunities to young school leavers, and cascading knowledge. Connected through mobile technology, young women 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. CAMA now provides the backbone of the programmes through which Camfed is bringing about systemic change. As Director of CAMA Development, Fiona is leading on ways to grow and replicate this powerful model.
Fiona has spoken at numerous international platforms, notably at a policy roundtable and plenary session at the 2016 Girls’ Education Forum hosted by the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID), and a 2015 roundtable on the Let Girls Learn initiative with First Lady of the United States Michelle Obama, and the Secretary of State for International Development of the UK. Fiona was also invited to speak in Dublin at the One Young World Summit 2014 Education Plenary Session. She joined two fellow CAMA leaders to stand with Malala Yousafzai when world leaders committed to the Sustainable Development Goals at the United Nations in September 2015.
In rural Africa, many girls are celebrating being the first high school graduates in their family, even in an entire community. However most of these young graduates lack the resources to take up university places, and often feel that they now represent an additional burden on already strained household incomes.
Europe has once again been thrown headfirst into election season. This month alone revealed the fault lines in French society as disaffected voters rejected established parties, preceding the UK's all-important snap election in June. And toward the end of the year in October, Germany will hold its own elections as Angela Merkel seeks another term in office.
This month 11,800 girls in Zimbabwe who, like me, have been supported through school by Camfed - the Campaign for Female Education - will graduate from secondary school. They're the fortunate ones - given a chance in life by securing their right to a quality education.
Today, on International Day of the Girl Child, I want to call for everyone - whether they are policy makers, non-profit leaders or everyday citizens looking to make a difference in the world - to listen to the real experts in girls' education.
10/10/2016 16:47 BST
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