Betty Makoni and her ten high school students founded Girl Child Network in 1999 in Zimbabwe at Zengeza 1 High.The organisation scored a first world over and now Girl Child Network Worldwide coordinates girls round the world forming girls clubs daily.
Girl Child Network Worldwide emerged out of multiple personal experiences, collectively representing a proven track record that is acknowledged around the world and makes it possible to move seamlessly from the African village to the Global village.
Abuse of young girls recognises no borders, cultures, creed or colour. It is all around us, representing massive loss of human potential as well as a gross violation of human rights.
“From our lived experiences, we have so many practical ways to support the empowerment of girls in the home, school, and community so that what happened to us will never happen to women and girls again. We want a new breed of girl who will walk in the fullness of her potential,” — Betty Makoni— Director and Founder of Girl Child Network GCNW IS THE LEAD ORGANISATION IN THE EMPOWERMENT OF GIRLS WORLDWIDE HISTORY
The need to establish an organisation to champion the rights of girl children in Zimbabwe was perceived in 1998 by Betty Makoni after listening to the horrifying experiences of ten of her female students. Her personal experiences of abuse as a child further fueled her determination. An informal discussion group was subsequently created to provide a safe forum for girls to meet and talk freely about their problems and devise possible solutions. This initial group became the first girls’ empowerment club in Zimbabwe. In March of 1999 Girl Child Network (GCN) was formally established with the specific mandate to be a voice for the voiceless, particularly school-aged girls between the ages of 0 – 16-years-old. The organization was born out of the helplessness and hopelessness of the girl child in Zimbabwe, with the objective to assist girls in their quest for emancipation. GCN set out to advocate on behalf of girls and to empower them to speak out when their rights were being violated. Therein the previously forgotten girl child was able to highlight her plight regarding sensitive issues like rape, HIV/AIDS, forced marriages, premarital sex and also effectively communicate her hopes and aspirations. By the end of 1999, there were at least 10 active clubs in Chitungwiza, and in 2000 GCN began building Girls Empowerment Villages that served as ‘safe houses’ where survivors of rape and sexual abuse could seek refuge and rehabilitation. To break the silence, the founding members, 500 girls, and a few gender-sensitive men, women and boys undertook a 17-day march against child sexual abuse, covering 290 kilometres from Chitungwiza to Mutare, proving itself a true champion of girls` rights.
In 2006 GCN was firmly established in Zimbabwe and indeed became a household name. By July 2006, over 30,000 girls belonged to some 500 GCNW clubs in Zimbabwe, spread over 35 of Zimbabwe’s 58 districts. Today, the number of girls joining GCNW has grown and many girls` clubs and initiatives, with the purpose of fundraising on behalf of girls, are sprouting up around the globe with over 900 girls’ empowerment clubs in Africa alone. Other countries with clubs involved or affiliated with GCNW include Uganda, Botswana, Namibia, Swaziland, Ethiopia, South Africa, Sierra Leone, Canada, the United Kindom, and the U.S. Girls everywhere are taking the initiative and mobilizing to defend their rights. Clearly, girl child empowerment is spreading like wildfire.
The idea to expand GCN into Girl Child Network Worldwide (GCNW) was conceived in September 2007 by Betty Makoni, and current US-based trustee Leanne Grossman who started fundraising projects to support girls in Zimbabwe who had fallen into disastrous situations for which no one immediately and effectively mobilized. This had a huge impact as the assistance benefitted 160 girls over a three-month period. GCNW replicates a best practice model that has secured 26 global awards for excellence, innovation, and effectiveness in the delivery of girls` empowerment programs at the local grassroots level. It is a globally acclaimed organization anchored in many parts of the world. It stands as a great inspiration to girls and women who want to actualize their full potential. By taking a unique empowerment and proactive rather than welfarist or reactive approach, GCNW motivates girls to spearhead their own liberation. The GCNW Empowerment Model has worked very well in Zimbabwe and in other parts of Africa, however, its transformation into GCNW comes at a time when its founding members strongly feel an international platform would unite girls in their activism and allow them to speak out with one well coordinated voice, ensuring a clear worldwide leadership and solidarity on issues affecting the girl child. The organization has emerged out of the exploitive personal experiences undergone by girls and women around the world, and the resulting experience, passion, and commitment makes it possible to move seamlessly from the African village to the global village. GCNW is meant to be the centre of coordination and learning, and to provide a forum for the exchange of ideas, knowledge, and resources. VISION
We envision a world where girls everywhere are empowered and enjoy their right to walk in the fullness of their potential.
GCNW will continue to support and promote girls’ rights, empowerment, and education by reaching out to and advancing the circumstances of girls wherever they are economically deprived, at risk of abuse, subject to harmful cultural practices, or living in areas of instability. There is an urgent need for GCNW to continue to accomplish its mission through implementing our core principles: • Integrity— we deliver our programs with truth and openness and know we must remain accountable at all times. Everything we say and do must show that we are open and clean in our words and deeds.
• Passion— we do everything from the heart. Our work inspires and is inspired by our personal stories and the stories of the girls we represent.
• Commitment— we started as volunteers and we will commit our time and resources above what others contribute.
• Excellency— We must be the best in whatever we do. No part of our work is insignificantly done.
• Action— we continually strive for concrete results through concrete action.
• Empowerment— everyone we work with or target must be able to stand up for themselves, our role being to facilitate this process.
• Teamwork— we believe the solution requires all of us playing a role and that each role is essential.
• Learning and sharing— As we generate knowledge and share knowledge it will make us stronger and better. We are an organization that promotes a learning culture.
OBJECTIVES GCNW is the lead organization in the empowerment of girls worldwide. We empower formerly exploited girls to unleash their potential and thereby become future women leaders. Our specific objectives are: • To identify and support girls who are at risk of, or who have survived gender based violence throughout the world. • To advance girls’ access to education, thereby encouraging the learning and growth of girls individually and collectively
• To combat economic and social inequality so as to minimize gender based violence.
Programs and Services
The empowerment of girls in Africa is key to their transformation into powerful leaders who are able to walk in the fullness of their potential. While girls have the ability to address the challenges they face, to do so they need external support. We intend to provide the means for girls to stand up in exploitive situations and claim their rights. Our programs do not seek to...See More
Girl Child Network Worldwide is at the centre of a global commitment to gathering, codifying, training and promoting the experiences and expertise of girl advocates
GCNW supports and promotes girls’ rights, empowerment, and education by reaching out to and advancing the circumstances of girls wherever they are economically deprived, at risk of abuse, subject to harmful cultural practices, or living in areas of instability.
In recognition of Betty Makoni’s work through GCNW and her contribution to the global charity sector, she has received a total of 26 global and local awards for innovation, passion, and commitment:
• Newsweek announced Betty Makoni as one of 150 women who shake the world • Awarded African Achievers Award for Gender Equality- UK— May 2011 • Honorary Award from Duke University of Medicine (Top Ten U.S. College)— 2011 • Decade Child Rights Hero by the World Children’s Prize alongside Graca Machel and Nelson Mandela, Sweden — 2010 • Interaction (Network of U.S. non-profits) Humanitarian Award 2010 • The Women In Film and Television Awards, Los Angeles, U.S. • CNN Heroes Award for Protecting the Powerless— 2009 • Giraffe Heroes Project Award —2009 • Unsung Heroes of Compassion Award —2009 • Amnesty International Ginetta Sagan Award for Women and Children’s Rights, U.S. —May 2008 • Elected Ashoka Fellow- Global leading social entrepreneurs in recognition of Creative and Entrepreneurial Leadership and Commitment to Make Large-Scale Changes in Society • Drivers of Change Award- Southern Africa Trust —2007 • Women Empowerment Award —2007 • Runner Up-Director of the Year Award for NGO sector in Zimbabwe— 2008 • Finalist One World Person of the Year— 2007 • One of the Ten Outstanding Young People in the World by Junior Chamber International, a worldwide leadership organization for young leaders and professionals • Voted First out of Ten Outstanding Young in Zimbabwe —2007, The Junior Chamber Zimbabwe • Awarded by the World Children’s Prize for the Rights of the Child the Global Friends Award— 2007 • World Children’s Prize, an equivalent to Nobel Prize for Children in— 2007, in a global vote by 5,2 million children in 85 countries • Awarded the Zimbabwe Institute of Management National Contribution Award— 2007, for Immense Contribution to the Nation • The United Nations Red Ribbon Award— 2006, For Addressing Gender Inequalities that Fuel the HIV/AIDS Epidemic • Hafkin Prize Award Finalist— 2003 • Awarded for Creativity in Rural Life by the Women’s World Summit Foundation, Switzerland— 2003 • Awarded prize for Prevention of Child Abuse, now renamed Prize for Prevention of Child Abuse • Small Technical Grant Award for the Most Innovative Grassroots Community Based Strategy • Certificate of Honor by Global Philanthropy Forum for being The Most Remarkable Person, U.S.— 2002