How Prince Harry Is Carrying on Meghan Markle's Campaign for Girls' Empowerment in Africa
While in Africa next week, Prince Harry is set to meet with CAMFED, which provides education for girls
“For him to step in and say, ‘These are not just women’s issues, they are about human beings’ issues, they are about dignity’ — him putting his voice in this means a lot,” says Angeline Murimirwa, executive director of CAMFED, who will meet Harry on Tuesday, the one-year anniversary of when the world was told of his engagement to Meghan.
CAMFED tackles poverty and inequality in sub-Saharan Africa through the education of girls and the empowerment of young women. And through its alumni association, CAMA, which Murimirwa co-founded, members go out into communities and encourage even more young girls to get into education.
Murimirwa tells PEOPLE she admires the efforts of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex to use their public profile to “bring attention to this issue … and it will also bring attention to CAMA as a network.”
Since it started in 1992, by helping just 32 students in Zimbabwe, CAMFED has aided four million schoolchildren.
“We had foundations that were way stronger than other girls from our village. So we realized we had to give back to the community,” Murimirwa adds of those early days.
Their work continues as each alumni, or CAMA member, supports at least two children every year though school, through their own resources.
By the end of last year, they had helped almost half a million children over 20 years.
In one recent year, CAMA brought more than 4,390 children back to school.
“CAMA members were going back into communities and negotiating with community members and saying, ‘Outreach will pay for these girls, for their exercise books or uniform,’ ” Murimirwa explains. “It is out of that that our current partnership with the Queen’s Commonwealth Trust was born.”
Harry, 34, is Youth Ambassador of the family of 53 nations linked to the U.K. In addition to meeting with CAMFED, Harry is set to meet with conservation group African Parks, of which he is president.
It is not lost on CAMFED that they will be meeting Harry on his engagement announcement anniversary and that their focus on empowering girls and women is an issue dear to Meghan, 37.
Last month, in Fiji, Meghan said, “Everyone should be afforded the opportunity to receive the education they want, but more importantly the education they have the right to receive. And for women and girls in developing countries, this is vital.”
Murimirwa says it is “significant” to have Harry (whom Meghan has confirmed is a feminist) championing it, too.
“We always work with men as partners, embracing gender,” Murimirwa says, adding, “We have benefited from the support of the male constituency in our work — as teachers, as peers within the classroom. We have lots of boys and young people working on sensitive issues like sanitary provisions for girls.”
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Harry will start his visit to Zambia on Monday with a reception celebrating links between the U.K. and Zambia.
On Tuesday the prince will head to Burma Barracks to commemorate the Zambian veterans from the two world wars, meet widows of veterans and be shown around a special photographic exhibition about the African soldier of WWI.
At an event for the Queen’s Commonwealth Trust, of which he is also president, the royal father-to-be is set to chat to young leaders who are leading social purpose ventures around the world. He will also visit Circus Zambia, which helps young people from vulnerable backgrounds across Lusaka with life skills while providing educational and employment opportunities.
Harry’s final duty in the country will be a visit to BongoHive, the country’s first technology and innovation hub.
Murimirwa is keen to tell Harry and the outside world that the way their mentors give back shows that “these young people are not just recipients of aid but are activists in their own right and are donors to their communities.”
She believes Harry will gain inspiration from the visit after seeing her group’s work.
“It matters for him to see that he is not just one young person trying to help Africa,” she says. “But there are young people in Africa, and I hope it gives him the motivation and inspiration to give him momentum.”