Girl Move Project Mozambique


A supportive sisterhood creates education and leadership opportunities for girls in Mozambique

Before I was afraid of sharing my dreams, but now I have many sisters who teach and guide me, and who care about me and my future.
says 12-year-old Anísia.

Just like her mentor Denise Amelia Matsule, now a medical doctor, the young girl is part of the supportive sisterhood Girl MOVE.

Girl MOVE is a group of women working to break the cycle of poverty and early pregnancy and create new pathways into work and leadership. It is one of the two laureates of the 2021 UNESCO Prize for Girls' and Women's Education.

“We all know the power women have when we work together,” says Alexandra Machado, who, in 2013, founded Girl MOVE Academy with Luís Amaral in Mozambique. “Girl MOVE strives to ensure women and girls have fair access to education, opportunities to actively participate in society, and use their talent for their country’s development” she said. 

In Mozambique, only 31% of girls transition to secondary school and only 2% complete university. Child marriage and early and unintended pregnancy are linked to poor educational outcomes: 48% of girls marry, and 41.5% are pregnant before the age of 18.

The lack of female role models makes it difficult to break the cycle of poverty, which often limits women to being wives and young mothers.

We offer new reference models through our Girl MOVERS – young women in their twenties who have graduated from university. They get to see possibilities beyond the models offered by their families, mothers, grandmothers.

Creating positive female role models

Girl MOVE Academy, based in Mozambique’s northern province of Nampula, creates intergenerational mentorship through interlinked programmes that protect against early marriage, early and unintended pregnancy and school dropout.

At the Academy’s heart are Girl MOVERS – 167 university graduates selected for their leadership potential, learning ability and integrity. 

Together with three university students, each Girl MOVER mentors a group of 30 adolescent girls transitioning from primary to secondary school. Amazingly, 85% of all beneficiaries have stayed in school, compared to 30% nationally. Only 2% have had an early pregnancy.

At the heart of Girl MOVE’s programme are Sisterhood Circles (Portuguese), informal groups where girls from the Academy share their stories, empower each other, and are encouraged to continue their studies and become change agents. All programmes use peer-to-peer learning, sports, and art to encourage girls to get involved in their communities. Around 40 new intergenerational impact circles mentor over 1,300 girls annually.

What’s next for Girl MOVE Academy

Girl MOVE Academy launched two new digital programmes amid the COVID-19 pandemic, expanding its reach and impact: RISE AND SHINE, a 2-month programme enabling university students and graduates to find their purpose and become changemakers in their communities, and MOVHERS, a digital programme supporting female changemakers from around the globe to solve global and complex challenges.

As Alexandra says, “the future for Girl MOVE is to build a wider network of young changemakers in different countries, strengthen two-way connections with world leaders and create a broader platform of content. […] Beyond gender parity, we want to help create a different type of woman leader and a more humanised leadership... [for] a brighter future.”

About the UNESCO Prize for Girls’ and Women’s Education

The UNESCO Prize for Girls’ and Women’s Education honours outstanding and innovative contributions made by individuals, institutions, and organizations to advance girls’ and women’s education. Funded by the Government of the People’s Republic of China, the Prize is conferred annually to two laureates and consists of an award of US $50,000 each.

The 2022 call for nominations has been extended to 3 June.

Governments of UNESCO Member States and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in official partnership with UNESCO are invited to nominate up to three individuals, institutions or organizations who have made strong, innovative contributions in favour of girls’ and women’s education.

Interested candidates are invited to contact for more information.