April 2, 2019 — Malala Fund is proud to welcome 13 women and men from seven countries into the Gulmakai Network. The Gulmakai Network is Malala Fund’s signature initiative, which supports the work of education champions in developing countries.
“No matter the approach — campaigning for policy change, training girl advocates or hosting remedial classes — each Gulmakai Champion is dedicated to building a more equal world for girls," said Malala Yousafzai, co-founder of Malala Fund. "Malala Fund is confident that our investment in these activists and educators will speed up progress on girls’ education."
Threats to girls’ education — like poverty, war and gender discrimination — differ between countries and communities. Malala Fund believes local education activists are best placed to understand the challenges in their communities and deliver solutions. But these women and men often lack the funding and support necessary to scale their impact.
Malala Fund aims to close this gap by connecting our Gulmakai Champions with each other and to the tools, training and partners they need to spark social and systemic change. There are 38 Gulmakai Champions working across Afghanistan, Brazil, India, Nigeria, Pakistan and countries hosting Syrian refugees, like Turkey and Lebanon.
Meet the 2019 cohort of Gulmakai Champions:
Deema Hiram, Programme Implementation Manager at Afghan Women’s Educational Center
In the northern and eastern provinces of Afghanistan, Deema holds meetings with parents, teachers, community elders and government officials to address local barriers to girls’ education. She also re-enrols out-of-school girls, trains girl advocates to help their peers stay in school and works with the Ministry of Education to recruit female teachers to schools in these areas.
Enayat Nasir, Programme Coordinator at Aid Afghanistan for Education
In Afghanistan, girls are banned from attending formal schools if they are married, too old or IDPs with inadequate academic records. Enayat builds accelerated learning centres to provide these students with secondary level classes and campaigns for the government to remove the restriction.
Rogério Barata, Advisor on Educational and Cultural Projects at Centro de Cultura Luiz Freire
To improve education quality and access in 15 Afro-Brazilian quilombola communities, Rogério is consulting with local leaders and girls to create standard guidelines on school operation, transportation and curriculum. He also trains girls, teachers and leaders to advocate for education at municipal and state levels.
Bondita Acharya, Director of Purva Bharati Educational Trust
In Assam — India’s largest tea-producing state — many girls don’t finish their secondary education because there aren’t enough schools on plantations. Bondita works with officials to ensure plantations comply with laws guaranteeing girls the right to learn. She also supports girls at risk of dropping out and trains girls to monitor enrolment and retention rates.
Yuman Hussain, Executive Director of Azad India Foundation
To reduce dropout rates in Bihar, Yuman holds supplemental classes to help marginalised girls re-enter school or keep up with their coursework. She also teaches parents and school officials about gender equality and how to make schools safer for girls.
Azzam Tomeh, Senior Advocacy Researcher at Basmeh & Zietooneh at Naba’a
To help Syrian refugees in Lebanon catch up on missed classes, Azzam is developing and testing a secondary education remedial programme for students in grades seven through nine. He works with other Gulmakai Champions in the Syria region to advance this initiative.
Frances Uchenna Igwilo, Youth Programme Coordinator at African Centre for Leadership, Strategy and Development
In northern Nigeria, Frances hosts town hall meetings to teach local leaders and families the value of educating girls and improving school facilities. She also runs peer clubs where girls can share their experiences, develop leadership skills and learn how to advocate for safe, quality education.
Munira Yerima, Education Manager at Borno Women Development Initiative
Parents in northern Nigeria are often hesitant to send their daughters back to school after they were forced out by Boko Haram insurgents. Munira leads a group of local leaders, parents and school officials who educate families on the value of girls’ education and advocate for government investment in school facilities.
Pamela Okoroigwe, Senior Legal Officer at Legal Defence and Assistance Project (LEDAP)
Pamela works to enforce the Universal Basic Education (UBE) Act, which guarantees free, compulsory education through lower secondary school. She oversees the production of implementation guidelines for state officials, monitors girls’ enrolment progress in each state and runs campaigns to raise awareness about the act.
Huma Zia Faran, Programmes Lead at Pak Alliance for Maths and Science Welfare Trust
Huma leads a national advocacy campaign calling on four targeted provincial governments to allocate at least 20% of their total budgets to education, increase the number of girls’ schools by 10%, and guarantee children with disabilities the right to education.
Qamar Naseem, Programme Coordinator at Blue Veins
Qamar campaigns for the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa provincial and district government to increase funding for girls’ secondary education to build more girls’ schools, improve existing infrastructure and eliminate fees. His advocacy is informed by his current research study, which identifies barriers to girls’ secondary school access and completion in five districts.
Shawana Shah, Co-Founder and Programme Director of Da Hawwa Lur
In Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, more than half of girls are out of school. Shawana advocates for the provincial government to increase the budget for girls’ schools, offer students free transportation and improve current school conditions. She also teaches girls about legislation affecting their lives so they can be informed advocates.
Özge Sönmez Vardar, Programme Director at Yuva Association
To improve retention rates and help Syrian refugee girls adjust to public school in Turkey, Özge leads a programme that trains educators on how to manage culturally diverse classrooms and teach Turkish as a second language.
Learn more about the Gulmakai Network at malala.org/gulmakai-network.