Circle of Women is a new kind of non-profit, run entirely by full-time students and young professionals. The organization was founded in 2005 by three young Harvard women when they realized that the world under-invests in girls. Since then, the organization has carried out the mission to build and support sustainable secondary schools, making classrooms more accessible to young women in developing countries. To date, Circle Of Women has completed four projects in India, Pakistan, Malawi, and Afghanistan, and has served over 1,500 girls in the process. The organization has also established over 20 chapters in high schools and universities across the country, and aims to cultivate a new generation of global citizens by providing chapter members with hands-on experience in organizational management, fundraising, and project management.
In 2009, Circle of Women completed its first girls school in Wardack, Afghanistan. At the time, over 500 girls were graduating primary school every year with no option to continue their formal education. After 18 months of construction and an investment of around $180,000, Circle opened the doors to 700 eager girls. The two-story building has twelve classrooms that service the community as a gathering place after school hours. Local leaders registered the school with the Afghan Ministry of Education and designed the curriculum after state standards.
Their latest project is in Nsaru, Malawi. In the small landlocked nation of Malawi, only 62.7 percent of the total population is literate. While 76.1 percent of men can read and write, only 49.8 percent of women are able to do so. Atsikana Pa Ulendo (APU) is a girls’ secondary school located 19 miles west of Lilongwe that is addressing the gender gap by providing quality education in a rural community and offering scholarships to students who otherwise could not afford to attend. Currently, the school’s three classroom blocks allow for a capacity of 360 students. APU and Circle of Women will build a fourth classroom block in order to expand the student capacity to 480 students by 2017.
Circle Of Women believes that one educated girl affects one community, and that one community effects a world of change. Their ultimate goal is to encourage all women and girls to be these agents of change.