McKinley Tretler is communications manager at Malala Fund. She works to develop and execute Malala Fund’s messaging and media strategies.
Today Malala Fund CEO Farah Mohamed announced the organisation’s expansion to Latin America and welcomed three Brazilian education activists into the Gulmakai Network. The Gulmakai Network is Malala Fund’s initiative to support local educators and activists who work in countries where girls face the greatest barriers to education.
More than 3.2 million children are out of school in Brazil, denied an education because of racism, exploitation and poverty. Malala Fund believes all Brazilian girls could be in school in a matter of years—if the country’s leaders spend more on education, ensure schools reach the most marginalised girls and promote gender equality in classrooms. By investing in local leaders, Malala Fund hopes to accelerate progress for girls’ education and equality.
While in Brazil for her 21st birthday, Malala met the new Gulmakai Champions and long-time activists who are working to improve educational opportunities for Indigenous and Afro-Brazilian girls.
- Sylvia Siqueira Campos is president at Movimento Infantojuvenil de Reivindicação (MIRIM). At 13, Sylvia began work with MIRIM as a youth advocate and today leads the organisation’s work with marginalised young people in Pernambuco. She is collecting data on the financial cost to the state when girls drop out of school in order to help increase the number of black and Indigenous girls that complete secondary school. Sylvia is also training parents, teachers and local leaders to advocate for girls’ education.
- Ana Paula Ferreira de Lima is a coordinator at Anaí (National Association of Indigenous Action). A former teacher, Ana Paula is determined to increase the number of Indigenous girls completing school in Bahia. She is leading a study that will evaluate the current state of education in Brazil and how girls are affected. She is also conducting a state-level campaign advocating for an increase in education financing and training 60 Indigenous girls as youth advocates.
- Denise Carreira is a journalist, researcher and education activist, currently serving as deputy coordinator at Ação Educativa. To promote more tolerant school environments, she is developing an online course to train teachers on gender equality. She is also helping publish Ação Educativa’s report on gender-based violence and discrimination and plans to survey 15 secondary schools in Brazil to report on the quality of education.
“Brazil is making progress for girls — but only for some girls,” said Mohamed. “Ensuring equal access to education requires bold, steadfast leadership. That’s why we’re proud to invest in these three activists whose work to challenge leaders and change norms is already helping create a brighter future for all Brazilian girls.”
Malala Fund believes local educators and 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 increase 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. Malala Fund is currently supporting Gulmakai Champions in Afghanistan, Brazil, India, Lebanon, Nigeria, Pakistan and Turkey.
To learn more about the Gulmakai Network, please visit malala.org/gulmakai-network.