Jessy and Isaac, climate activists in Malawi

Thoko Chikondi/Oxfam. This project is funded by the European Union.

Rainy season has become shorter and unpredictable.”

Jessy, a Climate Activist in Malawi

Determined to learn

For Jessy’s community, the devasting effects of climate change don’t just impact the environment. As Jessy knows all too well, there’s a knock-on effect to education, especially girls’ education.

“Girls keep quitting school for marriages because the rainy season has become shorter and unpredictable. The growing season starts as late as December and vanishes as maize tassels in February, leaving our families with little food and not much to sell.”

“Families like mine sell the surplus to send children to school. If we harvest too little, we have nothing to sell. Our parents use everything to feed us instead of paying school fees. When we are hit hard, they have to choose between sending a boy or a girl to school. The boy child wins because it is our culture. Many Malawians think that a girl child is less important than a boy, so they send a boy to school and leave girls to do household chores or marry young.”

Watipaso Kaliwo/Oxfam

Jessy in one of the classrooms at Chilanga Community Day Secondary School

Nearly half of Malawian girls marry before their 18th birthday and a third of adolescents fall pregnant aged 15 to 19, according to the Malawi Demographic and Health Survey.

“I feel sad because boys and girls are equal. Both can change the world if they are given a chance to learn. From 2012 to 2014, Malawi had a female president, Joyce Banda. If you educate a boy or a girl, it is just the same.”

A secure education

As part of Oxfam’s commitment to championing equal access to education, Jessy is one of many young girls around the world supported by an Oxfam funded scholarship programme, so they get the education they deserve. But like so many other girls, Jessy’s education wasn’t always so secure.

“I have been affected by climate change. I failed to go to school because my parents couldn’t pay school fees every time crops did not do well. I want to show the doubters the impact of climate change in my country. People in Nsanje District are displaced by flooding every year. Teachers cannot teach because they are thinking about their destroyed homes and what they are going to feed their children.”

Now, Jessy is confident enough to speak up about climate change on a global stage and make her community’s challenges heard.

If you’d like to support secure and equal access to education for the next generation of young women around the world, consider a gift in your Will.

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Rainy season has become shorter and unpredictable.”

Jessy, a Climate Activist in Malawi