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Four years on from Malala’s first speech at the United Nations, calling for universal access to education, we celebrate Malala Day 2017. On this day, as millions of students around the world graduate, we recognize the courage and strength of young women who have fought for their education, and continue to fight on behalf of others.

“We cannot hope to achieve peaceful and prosperous societies without unlocking the potential of millions of girls denied an education. Girls’ secondary education is an investment in economic growth, a healthier workforce and the peace and prosperity of our planet.” - Malala Yousafzai

Fiona Mavhinga, leader of Camfed’s CAMA alumnae network, joined Malala in New York in 2015 during the week the United Nations committed to 17 ambitious Global Goals to end extreme poverty, improve health, achieve gender equality, and protect the planet.

All of these goals rely on Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 4: Ensuring that children across the globe have access to quality education — education that cannot end at the school gates. In her latest blog, Fiona conveys the pride, and the anxiety, of girls graduating from high school in rural sub-Saharan Africa. Driven by a deep sense of responsibility to start contributing to their households, they need the right skills and knowledge to forge their own path in the context of deep economic disadvantage, gender inequity, and youth unemployment.

Fiona describes the vital importance of supporting young women to avoid exploitation, take control of their futures, and deliver on the promise of quality education for the next generation.

Fiona Mavhinga (left) joined Malala and her girls’ education activists in New York with two of her CAMA sisters during UN Week 2015

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