In the country of Malawi, there are many barriers to girls who want to get an education. Child marriage is all too common, and more than 46% of girls are married by the time they are 18*.
HIV/AIDS, early pregnancy, and poverty are also significant obstacles. Many girls never even get to attend high school.
But education is also the key to being able to rise above poverty and to reducing the gender equality gap in countries like Malawi.
Mary Nguyen is the CEO of Enzoani, a wedding dress company. When Mary learned about Girls Rising Up, a program led by Children of the Nations, and the work the program was doing to support the education and health of young girls and women in Malawi, she became passionate about supporting this cause.
She planned to go on a trip to Malawi to volunteer and work with the Girls Rising Up program. But when Mary learned that her trip to Malawi had been cancelled because of COVID-19, she didn’t let that stop her from contributing to the cause she was passionate about.
Instead, Mary decided to use her company to make a difference. For every wedding gown that was sold during the month of August, $10 went to supporting young girls in Malawi. This money went toward education and healthcare for these children, both of which are especially important right now during the coronavirus pandemic.
Tikambechi knows firsthand the power of education. When she was young, her father died. Her mother was disabled and couldn’t care for her, so Tikambechi was brought to Children of the Nation’s children’s home in Malawi. There, thanks to her sponsors and partners of Children of the Nations, she was given the opportunity to get an education.
She became interested in STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and design, and mathematics) and got the opportunity to attend the Women in Science (WiSci) Camp, which brought 98 high school girls from across Africa and the United States to Malawi. They learned about developing mobile apps, coding, microbiology, and more.
“I made a lot of new friends from different countries, not just Malawi,” said Tikambechi when describing her experience at the camp. “I learnt how to connect a robot, and I was also told that girls are most powerful—that we can bring a great change in Malawi.”
She said that one of her favorite moments of camp was when she and a team of Malawian girls got the opportunity to present one of their projects to Malawi’s first lady.
Now, Tikambechi wants to be an engineer.
She says, “I believe that everybody can be anything, and I want to empower women that they can be anything.”
Fewer than 1 in 5 researchers in Malawi are women.** Supporting intelligent young women like Tikambechi will help close this disparity in the STEAM field as well as improve gender equality in Malawi.