Gulmakai Network

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

Malala Fund’s initiative — the Gulmakai Network — supports the work of education champions in developing countries and speeds 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 Champions

Meet our 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 champions wishes to remain anonymous for security purposes.
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Rahmatullah Arman

Afghanistan

Rahmatullah Arman is the CEO of Teach for Afghanistan, serving more than 10,000 girls in Afghan schools. Arman will use his grant to recruit promising college graduates to teach girls in public schools in underserved regions. Teach for Afghanistan plans to use evidence from this project to advocate for the government to financially support the model in the future.

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Zehra Arshad

Pakistan

Zehra advocates for a constitutional amendment that would increase the standard of free and compulsory education from 10 years to 12 years for all children. To achieve this, she collects evidence on gender gaps in education, trains the media to investigate girls’ education issues and teaches students how to be education activists.

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Abubakar Askira

Nigeria

Abubakar teaches at Yerwa Government Girls’ Secondary School in Maiduguri. He trains community coalition groups to identify the challenges girls face when going to school. After their training, the coalition groups meet with the families of out-of-school girls to discuss the benefits of girls’ education and help them to re-enrol their daughters.

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Metin Çorabatir

Turkey

Metin is creating an education working group to ensure that girls’ education is a priority in the Syrian Regional Refugee and Resilience Plan (3RP). The working group will base its advocacy strategy on the findings from IGAM’s report on the barriers to education that adolescent refugee children face in Turkey. Metin also raises awareness on the importance of secondary education through community outreach to parents and a mobile application with information on refugee services.

Nayla Fahed

Lebanon

Nayla Fahed is president and co-founder of Lebanese Alternative Learning, an organisation that uses digital learning platforms to reach vulnerable communities. Her Gulmakai Network grant focuses on expanding a STEM e-learning programme to Syrian refugee girls in public schools and non-formal learning centres in Lebanon. By working with the Lebanese government to deploy the e-learning platform, Nayla will reach many more students.

Fadi Hallisso

Lebanon

Fadi Hallisso is the co-founder and CEO of Basmeh & Zeitooneh, a Lebanese organisation that works with Syrian refugees living in Lebanon and Turkey. Through his grant, Fadi will advocate for Syrian refugees issues in the region, focusing on issues related to girls’ education. He looks to expand an accelerated learning and leadership programme for Syrian refugee girls in Lebanon and Turkey.

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Hiba Hamzi

Lebanon

Hiba advocates to raise the legal minimum age of marriage to 18, in order to reduce the number of Syrian girls forced into child marriage. To achieve this goal, she lobbies parliament members, ministers, party leaders and religious leaders to lift Lebanon’s reservation to article 16 of CEDAW. She also holds workshops to teach girls about the risks of early marriage and the importance of education.

Gulalai Ismail

Pakistan

Gulalai Ismail co-founded Aware Girls with her sister when she was 16 years old. Aware Girls works for gender equality and peace in Pakistan. Her project will work to increase girls’ secondary school enrolment and retention in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. They will encourage the provincial government to make 12 years of education compulsory for girls and increase the budget for education. Her project will also train young women in advocacy and raise awareness of the importance of girls’ education amongst families and communities.

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Kiki James

Nigeria

In the northern states of Adamawa, Borno and Kano, Kiki advocates for the passage of the Child Rights Act, which guarantees children the right to education through junior secondary school. To achieve this, she hosts public forums, creates policy briefs for state governors and works with the Commissioner of Education. She also produces radio segments that promote girls’ education and works with state officials to secure funding for girls’ secondary schools.

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Dr. Jyotsna Jha

India

Jyotsna is developing a mentoring programme that will teach girls critical thinking skills and encourage them to speak out about the issues they witness in their communities. After the programme is piloted in the state of Bihar, Jyotsna will advocate for the model’s integration into school curricula nationwide.

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Reeta Kaushik

India

At age 28, Reeta founded SKVS to support education for Dalit, Muslim and other marginalised girls in Uttar Pradesh. She is organising a campaign to convince parents to re-enrol their out-of-school daughters. She is also training school administrators to better address the issues female students face and establishing a monitoring system to identify the exclusion of marginalised girls.

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Maryam Amjad Khan

Pakistan

Through targeted media outreach and community organising, Maryam campaigns for the Punjab provincial government to create a special fund for girls’ secondary education. Maryam will also support a local women-led organisation that breaks down accessibility and socio-economic barriers preventing girls from going to school.

Gamze Karadag

Turkey

Gamze Karadag is the vice president of Mavi Kalem, an organisation serving vulnerable women and girls in Turkey. Her grant will seek to improve government policies on Syrian refugee girls’ education and increase their enrolment in public Turkish secondary schools. It aims to do so through community campaigning, mentorship programmes and advocacy meetings with critical stakeholders in Turkey.

Habiba Mohammed

Nigeria

Habiba Mohammed is the co-director of Centre for Girls’ Education (CGE) in Nigeria. Before joining CGE nine years ago, Habiba was a teacher for 16 years. With her Gulmakai Network grant, CGE is launching an advocacy and media campaign compelling the Kaduna State government to improve the quality of literacy instruction in government primary schools and eliminate Senior Secondary School fees. CGE will also enhance its bridge programme for out-of-school girls in preparation for the programme’s expansion, and develop an e-learning package for its community-based clubs that serve rural adolescent girls.

Rotimi Olawale

Nigeria

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 in five states in Nigeria for the passage of the Child Rights Act, which guarantees children the right to education through junior secondary school. In support of this goal, YouthHubAfrica will train journalists to report on the issue and develop state-level advocacy campaigns using social media and other tools.

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Ambarish Rai

India

Ambarish works to strengthen and expand India’s RTE Act. He engages with regional and national government officials to expand the RTE Act to make secondary school free and compulsory. He also advocates to increase government spending on education and add specific provisions in the National Education Policy to support girls' education.

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Rehana Rehman

India

Rehana founded NBSKS to engage Muslim and Dalit girls in non-formal education in Moradabad, Uttar Pradesh. She facilitates conversations between schools and parents to engage them in their daughters’ education. She is also establishing a community-based chaperone programme that will ensure girls’ safety during their long walks to school.

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Zarmina Satary

Afghanistan

Zarmina works with Afghanistan’s Ministry of Hajj and Religious Affairs to develop religious materials that promote girls’ secondary education and the protection of teachers. She also engages with the Ministry of Education to recruit female teachers and provide 30 girls’ high schools with water, hand-washing facilities and clean, safe toilets.

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Umme Kalsoom Seyal

Pakistan

In Muzaffargarh, Punjab, Umme Kalsoom organises forums and focus groups so community members can provide input on local school plans and discuss the educational needs of their children with the local government. She also mobilises the female elected councillors of Tehsil Muzaffargarh to lead community discussions on barriers to girls’ education. With SYCOP, Umme produces plays to encourage families to send their daughters to school.

Areebah Shahid

Pakistan

Areebah Shahid serves as head of programmes at Pakistan Youth Change Advocates. Her project focuses on developing a youth-led advocacy campaign to increase secondary education opportunities for girls in northwest Pakistan. As there are twice as many boys’ schools as girls' schools in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, they advocate for legislators and policymakers to allocate greater resources to girls’ education. The project already launched a community mobilisation and media campaign to raise awareness of the importance of enrolling girls in secondary education.

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Zarqa Yaftali

Afghanistan

Zarqa conducts field research on how Afghanistan’s education system limits girls’ access to the classroom. Across six provinces, her team will interview girls, parents, teachers and education officials. Zarqa will then use her findings to urge the Central Ministry of Education to develop a national action plan to address the systemic barriers preventing girls from completing secondary school.

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Haroon Yasin

Pakistan

Haroon developed a mobile and web application that streams cartoon versions of standard lessons to children unable to attend formal lessons, making Pakistan’s primary school curriculum more accessible. He is now replicating the programme for lower secondary students. In the Rajanpur and Muzaffargarh districts of the southern Punjab region, he will provide out-of-school girls with the app and help them resume their 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!

Partnerships

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 countries, starting with Afghanistan, Lebanon, Nigeria, Pakistan, Turkey and India.

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