04 Dec 2020
Virtual, Hong Kong Time (GMT+8)
Educating women to advance society: In partnership with J.P. Morgan Private Bank’s Philanthropic Insights series

How has the COVID-19 pandemic impacted the education of women and girls?

The Yidan Prize Foundation was proud to partner with the J.P. Morgan Private Bank for one of their Philanthropic Insights series on 4 December 2020. The event featured an online discussion with the Yidan Prize for Education Development Laureates for 2020 from CAMFED (Campaign for Female Education), which supports some of the most excluded girls in sub-Saharan Africa to go to school, learn, thrive, and lead change for their families and communities.

The session brought together Ms Angeline Murimirwa, Executive Director-Africa (live from Zimbabwe) and Lucy Lake, Chief Executive Officer (live from the United Kingdom), both from CAMFED. The session was also joined by one of our Judges in the Yidan Prize for Education Development Panel, Mr Ruben Vardanyan (live from Russia). The conversation was moderated from Hong Kong by Jean Sung, Head of the Asia Philanthropy Center at J.P. Morgan.

Below are the highlights of the discussion.


“Education will be the main driver of the 21st century,” says Ruben Vardanyan, Armenian-Russian social entrepreneur, impact investor, and venture philanthropist, who is a judge of the Yidan Prize for Education Development.

“Creativity is becoming a key success factor not only for technological companies, but for entire societies.”


By educating girls it is possible to achieve remarkable gains in health and reduced infant mortality rates.

“It opens up individual choices and opportunities and it also makes huge economic sense,” says Angeline Murimirwa, who would not have been able to complete her secondary education without the financial and social support provided by CAMFED.

“Some countries lose more than $1 billion a year by failing to educate girls at the same level as boys,” she says.


“Never has this combination of financial and social support been more crucial in keeping girls in school than during this COVID pandemic, when so much is at stake,” says Angeline Murimirwa.

“Eleven million. That’s the number of girls who might not return to school this year due to COVID-19’s unprecedented education disruption,” explains Jean Sung. “This alarming number not only threatens decades of progress made towards gender equality, but it also puts girls around the world at risk of adolescent pregnancy, early or forced marriage, and violence.”

Investing in millions of future leaders

CAMFED CEO Lucy Lake explains the significance of her organization’s recognition in 2020:
“The Yidan prize really opens up a new chapter for us as an organization, because it will enable us to work with partners in their council of luminaries, which are part of the Yidan community, to really be able to explore now how components of our model can be replicated more widely, and how we can deal with some of the issues of exclusion, inequality, low learning outcomes, and low transition to work — universal challenges that marginalized children face.”

Angeline Murimirwa explains that CAMFED’s collective efforts “have already supported more than 4.1 million children to go to school across Ghana, Malawi, Tanzania, Zambia, and Zimbabwe, and more than seven million students have benefited from an improved educational environment.”
“Together, we multiply the number of girls in school and accelerate their transition to livelihoods and leadership.”

Role models and multipliers

“There were no visible role models of educated young women in those communities, and a real sense of isolation,” explains CAMFED CEO Lucy Lake.

“So what we did was bring those young women, the first young women to have completed school with CAMFED’s support, to bring them together and enable them to be empowered by their shared experience in finding solutions to the next steps. Each member of our alumni association is, in turn, supporting three other girls to go to school. So it really is multiplying the investment that has been made in their education.”

In addition to the featured highlights video, you may find the cost effectiveness report on CAMFED’s program from the Research for Equitable Access and Learning (REAL) Centre, University of Cambridge by clicking the “Resources” tab below.