I am Mrs. Fiddes Msowoya, a woman who loves Mathematics and Sciences a lot. All my studies are mathematics / science related with credit overall grades for diploma and degree programmes. Studying Masters in Science Management Studies, I still register beyond undoubted distinctions for each course I pursue. I, therefore, urge all the females to love these fields and challenge the world that women too can do it.
Females are still treated secondary in many African countries where Malawi is not exceptional. There is need to strike a balance such that all females should get equal job opportunities as it is with their male counterparts in such fields. This can be achieved only when they enroll in such courses in order do away with categorizing the two groups. Women are equally capable as men. They are strong intellectually. Hence, it is important for them to learn science based opportunities.
Science jobs are well paying, hence such women role-models too shall be empowered and be well paid.
It is paramount to advocate for more females in sciences because currently the world revolves around Science and Technology, Engineering, Mathematics and innovation .Many existing opportunities require such skills and females are facing challenges in competing at global level because of lack of such skills. Without the involvement of women in sciences, males continue to enjoy exclusive employment in science related fields.
Encouraging females to participate in sciences will increase the pool of human resource from which the country can benefit and that will enhance sustainable development .
In Malawi, female population outweighs that of males and excluding them in sciences ensures delayed socio-economic development.
Women are naturally creative, this presents a great opportunity that can foster innovation and help in bringing about a major breakthrough in solving some of the problems in Malawi as a developing country.
Mrs Fiddes Msowoya The Director of Education ,Youth and Sports M’mbelwa District Council Mzimba District
This being the centenary of Mamie and Jack Martin’s marriage and journey to Malawi, we launched our #Pledge100 project on 1st January. Shona McAllister is our first pledger – she will run a 5k 100 times this year.
Shona used to run a bit many years ago but took it up seriously during the first lockdown. As part of a virtual running club, a group of six women who motivated each other, she achieved ‘Couch to 5k’ and decided to keep up her running. She says that she could not have done that without the support of those friends. Her ambition was to run well for half an hour. Having achieved that, she is now working on improving her pace. That is a bit tricky in the bad weather so she describes herself as being in ‘maintenance mode’ at the moment.
Shona reminds us that exercise is very good for our mental health. She says that lockdown transformed her lifestyle; she currently works from home and takes a lot more exercise. She and her husband have a new puppy, who is called ‘Emmeline’ after the famous suffragette. No more needs to be said about Shona’s views on girls’ education and her support of our work in Malawi.
Shona’s connection with the Mamie Martin Fund goes back to her late father, who played in a band with Willie Sinclair, Mamie’s grandson. They held many fundraisers for MMF and Shona thinks of herself as running these 5Ks in her Dad’s memory.
Shona lives in the southside of Glasgow with Queen’s Park and Linn Park nearby – excellent running opportunities. She hopes that the awareness and money which she is raising by this pledge will support our work with a view to improving equality and girls’ empowerment and reducing rates of child marriage in Malawi; she wants ‘to create a more equal society’. You can support Shona in her pledge or join her by also registering to do 100 of something this year.
January 1, 2021
December 31, 2021
In 2021 it will be 100 years since Mamie and Jack were married and started their new life in Malawi. Pledge100 invites supporters and friends of the Mamie Martin Fund to celebrate 2021 with … well, 100 of anything. Write 100 poems, climb 100 hills…it’s up to you.
#Pledge100 is about sharing the Mamie Martin Fund story and having fun. We also hope to raise some money, but it is not the primary focus
This project is free to register. If you’d like to pledge 100 as a family group or team, that’s also fine too. Participants will be awarded a certificate on completion of their Pledge100.
We are delighted to have images to share with you as an exhibition about Malawi and our work there. This exhibition was showing at the Undercroft Café at St Andrew’s and St George’s West Church, George Street, Edinburgh until the new restrictions but it remains there. After this it will go to East Lothian and to Fife. If you are not able to visit any of these venues, you can see it from the comfort of your own home on YouTube – link below
This year’s International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women is calling for global action to bridge funding gaps, and ensure essential services for survivors of violence during the COVID-19 crisis, and includes a strong focus on prevention.
Even before COVID-19 hit, violence against women and girls had reached pandemic proportions. Globally, 243 million women and girls had reported being abused by an intimate partner in the past year. In Malawi, a recent baseline survey for the Tithetse Nkhanza (Let’s Prevent Violence) programme in Malawi found that 75 per cent of adolescent girls had experienced at least one type of sexual harassment, abuse or exploitation during the previous year, and girls who were out of school were at higher risk of experiencing violence.
As countries have implemented lockdown measures to stop the spread of the coronavirus, violence against women and girls intensified. In Malawi, economic impacts have made families poorer, and school closures have left girls more vulnerable to exploitation, abuse, child marriage, and harassment.
Keeping girls in school is a key strategy for preventing violence and delaying early entry into marriage. Access to quality, inclusive and gender-sensitive education can provide important safe havens and support for girls at risk. Curricula that integrate discussions of gender issues, including violence, rights and healthy relationships, can be particularly effective in empowering girls and helping them to recognise and report violence.
Girls from the poorest families are most at risk of being out of school and missing out on the benefits of education. Across the country, only 59 per cent of girls from low-income households make the transition to secondary education. Even those who get to secondary school often continue to need support in various ways and the MMF ‘Ready to Learn’ fund is a vital part of our support.
One girl, Esther, who was being supported by the MMF ran away from home during a school holiday because her family tried to force her into marriage. She travelled back to school, alone, and has been cared for by a local well-wisher ever since. Esther is in her final term at school now and is a confident, cheerful young woman, so different from the terrified girl whom we first met. We wish her well in her next stage of life. Whatever challenges she still has to face, she has her education and the knowledge that people supsported her in her decisions.
The Mamie Martin Fund has been honoured to have Vera Chirwa as our Malawian Patron for many years. This Black History Month, we share her remarkable story.
Born in Nyasaland in the 1930s she was encouraged to go to school by her grandmother and was the only girl out of 72 pupils at Livingstonia primary school. At secondary school in Blantyre she was the only girl alongside 24 boys. She trained as a teacher before marrying Orton Chirwa in 1951. Together they campaigned for the independence of Malawi (then Nyasaland) and by the time this was achieved in 1964 both Vera and Orton had trained as lawyers. Vera was Malawi’s first female lawyer.
During the difficult years leading up to independence Vera and Orton were both arrested and imprisoned by the white British authorities on fabricated charges for their political activities with the Nyasaland African Congress. They were eventually released without charge but the experience led Vera with others to found The League of Malawi Women which taught women about their rights, as well as campaigning politically.
Dr Hastings Banda became Malawi’s first president but things started to go wrong when his Cabinet split as he became increasingly dictatorial, eventually declaring Malawi a one party state and making himself President for life. Orton, who was Minister of Justice in the cabinet, did not agree with this and eventually he and Vera and their young family had to flee their beloved Malawi as their lives were in danger.
On Christmas Eve in 1981 on their way to a meeting with other exiled Malawians in Zambia they were kidnapped by armed men and taken across the border into Malawi. There they were detained and imprisoned and eventually sentenced to death on 6th May 1983. Due to pressure from Amnesty International and many friends and supporters around the world they escaped execution but languished in prison for 12 years. Vera was released on 24th January 1993 but tragically her husband Orton died in prison under suspicious circumstances just prior to this.
Despite this blow, Vera continued to work and fight for human rights and the empowerment of women. The Mamie Martin Fund (founded in 1993, the year Vera was released from prison) supports poor girls in North Malawi to attend secondary school and hopefully empowers them to become strong women in their communities and in Malawi.
Vera is now 88years old and in poor health but her story continues to inspire young women around the world. Fearless Fighter is the title of her autobiography.
On Sunday 11th October we celebrate International Day of the Girl Child. The girl child is fundamental to our mission and our work. We believe that the education of girls and women is essential to the well-being and development of any nation. On this day we are pleased to launch a new report on the subject of girls’ education and the contribution which the Mamie Martin Fund makes.
The report is based on the research of Anna Freidenfeld as part of her MSc in International Development at the University of Edinburgh. It sets out the current situation relating to girls’ education and summarises the literature about it.
While we can only ever support a small number of girls at school (138 this year) Anna’s research found that 81% of MMF-supported girls successfully completed secondary school. This figure compares very favourably with the most recent Malawi-wide data from UNESCO which recorded that school completion in Malawi stood at just 21% in 2013. Anna also found that MMF’s work is effective in supporting girls with day-to-day expenses. This is because we take a holistic view, providing some money for the necessities which the girls cannot afford and without which they could not remain at school.
We can only support the girl child with your help and are grateful to all our donors and supporters. The best thing that you can do to help us continue this work for girls’ education is to sign up to a regular donation, however small. It is our small, regular donors who are our financial backbone. On behalf of the girl child in Malawi, thanks for all your support.
We’ve been delighted to have hosted an MSc research student from the University of Edinburgh. Anna Freidenfeld was studying International Development and has now completed her dissertation on ‘Barriers and Enablers to Girls’ Secondary School Education in Northern Malawi.’ Supervised for MMF by Moira Dunworth and Jean Gordon, both of whom are established researchers, Anna produced an insightful piece of work about girls’ education, why it is important and how work like ours makes a real difference.
As well as looking at the barriers to girls’ education in Malawi, Anna critiqued some other approaches and found that our ‘Ready to Learn’ (R2L) fund, which helps the girls with necessities they can’t otherwise afford, is an enabler, viz., ‘Unlike the […] approaches that champion “just add women and stir” without considering the gendered dimensions of poverty, initiatives like the R2L fund can better ‘level the playing field’ with boys by helping to dismantle gender related education-barriers, such as that of period poverty.’ The needs with which the MMF girls have asked for help are illustrated in the image. Culturally it is difficult for them to ask for help with sanitary wear so it does not feature highly in the data. However, it is a serious need and so we now provide reusable sanitary pads for all MMF girls from a local business, Supreme Malawi.
Anna concluded that our inclusive approach to supporting girls at secondary school leads to a much higher retention rate than the national average. 81% of MMF pupils (2014 – 2020) completed their secondary education and this contrasts starkly with the national average of 21% (UNESCO, 2013)
It is helpful to us to have an updated list of resources about girls’ education which we can and will use to support our argument that girls’ education is one of the most important areas in the development of a nation. By doing our little bit, we are making a real difference to the girls we support and, by extension, to the development of Malawi. Thanks for your help in enabling us to continue this work year on year.
Many of the stay-at-home riders in our recent cycling project, ‘Story-on-Bikes’, were previously unknown to the Mamie Martin Fund. It was wonderful to meet these new friends and supporters, albeit virtually. Through this contact we found many fascinating stories and connections. One of them is about Janet Cormack, the great-aunt of Lesley Clunas, a keen cyclist from the Black Isle.
Janet was born in 1896 and her family folklore has it that she drove from Aberdeen, where the family lived, to Malawi in the 1920s. She got married there in Fort Jameson (now Chipata, Zambia, near the Malawian border) in 1927 so will have overlapped with Mamie Martin, though not in the same part of Malawi. Janet was matron of Blantyre Hospital in Malawi for some of her time there.
Lesley first met her great-aunt in the 1970s when she returned to Aberdeen to die. Needless to say of such a strong spirit, she lived for almost two more decades. Janet died in 1982, aged 96. We are grateful to Lesley for sharing this story and the photos. Clearly Janet and Mamie were kindred spirits, both independent-minded women who lived and worked in Malawi at the same time. They each devoted their lives to others and would both be delighted for us to make these connections now and to work together to support girls’ education in Malawi.
Thanks to a generous donor, we now have a collection of mounted photographs of life and work in Malawi, with an emphasis on girls’ education of course. We are delighted to be able to show some of these photos for the first time as cafés and other venues reopen. The Wonder Spot café in Stockbridge, Edinburgh has made us very welcome and we love how these photos look in their art space. The photos can be seen by those in the café (take-away only just now) but also from the street. We’ve chosen bright and cheery photos from the collection to add positivity to the street as we all emerge from lockdown.
The selection and editing of the photos was achieved only because of the help of our photographic volunteer, Sue Dumbleton. In an organisation with minimal paid staff, the contribution of volunteers like Sue is essential to creative work like this.