Gulmakai Network

Education activists like Malala and Ziauddin present the strongest challenge to barriers that keep girls out of school.

Malala Fund’s new initiative — the Gulmakai Network — will support the work of education champions in developing countries and speed up progress towards girls’ secondary education around the world.

Threats to girls’ education — like poverty, war and gender discrimination — differ between countries and communities. Local educators and activists understand challenges in their communities and are best placed to identify, innovate and advocate for policy and programmatic solutions.

Malala Fund believes in these remarkable champions and we’re investing in their work so that every girl can learn and lead without fear.

Gulmakai's Inaugural Class

Meet our first group of Gulmakai champions! Over the next several years, we expect to see the work of these remarkable women and men result in substantial gains for girls’ education. One of our ten inaugural champions wishes to remain anonymous for their security.



Areebah Shahid serves as head of programs at Pakistan Youth Change Advocates. Her Gulmakai grant will support a program to train girls in university to campaign for girls’ education in their home communities.



Education activist Gulalai Ismail co-founded Aware Girls when she was 16 years old. Aware Girls works for gender equality and peace in Pakistan. Gulalai will use her grant to research challenges to girls’ education in northwest Pakistan and campaign to normalize girls’ education in communities where she works.



Habiba Mohammed is the co-director of Centre of Girls’ Education (CGE) in Nigeria. Before joining CGE nine years ago, Habiba was a teacher for 16 years. With her grant, she plans to develop an e-learning package for rural communities and help out-of-school girls in northern Nigeria return to the classroom.



Rotimi Olawale is the co-founder of YouthHubAfrica, an online platform to engage young people in social change. He has more than 10 years experience in youth advocacy and development work. Rotimi will use his grant to advocate for passage of the Child Rights Act in Nigeria.



Nayla Fahed is president and co-founder of Lebanese Alternative Learning, an organisation that uses digital learning platforms to reach vulnerable communities. Her grant work will focus on developing STEM e-learning programs for Syrian refugee girls living in Lebanon.



Gamze Karadag Koc is the vice president of Mavi Kalem, an organization serving vulnerable women and girls in Turkey. With her grant, she will lead a project to increase the enrollment of Syrian refugee girls in Turkish secondary schools.



Fadi Hallisso is the co-founder and CEO of Basmeh & Zeitooneh, a Lebanese organisation that works with Syrian refugees living in Lebanon and Turkey. Fadi plans to use his grant to create a catch-up program to help out-of-school Syrian girls re-enter the classroom.

Illustration for gulmakai page



Rahmatullah Arman is the CEO of Teach for Afghanistan, serving more than 10,000 girls in Afghan schools. Rahmatullah will use his grant to recruit promising college graduates as teachers for underserved regions.

Gulmakai landing page



Sabawoon Zaland is the Deputy Director of Safa FM radio, the most popular FM station in Eastern Afghanistan. With his Gulmakai Network grant, Sabawoon plans to produce radio segments aimed at countering negative perceptions of girls’ education.

Gulmakai Network Mission

To accelerate and amplify the impact of developing country advocates in countries where girls are most likely to miss out on secondary education.

The Meaning of "Gulmakai"

Did you know that Malala began her fight for girls’ education as a secret blogger in Pakistan? Gulmakai Network is named after the pseudonym 11-year-old Malala used when writing a blog for the BBC about life under the Taliban. We believe this is a fitting name for an initiative that will expand the work of activists just like Malala and Ziauddin!


Malala Fund plans to grow the Gulmakai Network, investing up to $10 million per year to support, train and scale the work of education champions in 10 developing countries, starting with Afghanistan, Lebanon, Nigeria, Pakistan and Turkey.

For information on opportunities to support our work, contact