A decade old Girl Child Network Zimbabwe
This document is a synopsis of Girl Child Network-Zimbabwe’s profile and review appraisal of its key activities and achievements since its founding and establishment in 1999. GCN is a community based, activist, developmental organisation that seeks to promote the rights and empowerment of the girl child in the home, school and community. It is registered under the Private Voluntary Organization Act (9/2004) and therefore enjoys legal status as an official non-governmental organisation in Zimbabwe.
2. Organizational Background
Betty Hazviperi Makoni, the GCN Founding Executive Director and her ten upper six students at Zengeza 1 High School in Chitungwiza, Zimbabwe, came up with an idea for an organization that champions the rights and empowerment of girls in Zimbabwe. As an organization, GCN was born out of the helplessness and hopelessness of the girl child, with the view to assisting them in their quest for emancipation and was formerly established and launched in 1999 as a response to the harsh realities of life of girls observed in all spheres of life by the Founder.
In March 1999, GCN was formally established with a specific mandate to be a voice for the voiceless, and helping provide a safe haven and forum where girls could meet, discuss challenges, offer each other support and devise solutions to their problems. The organization right from the onset, set out not only to advocate on girls and women’s behalf, but also to empower them to speak out for themselves when their rights were being threatened. In March 2009, GCN commemorated its 10th Anniversary amid nationwide celebrations by girls, staff, board, key stakeholders and friends of the organisation worldwide. On 1 October 2009, following a long leadership transitional period, Nyasha Blessing Mazango took over as Executive Director as Betty Makoni has now assumed an international role as President and Founder of ‘GCN Worldwide’.
3. GCN’s Vision
GCN envisions a society where girls are empowered and enjoy their rights with support from whole communities so as to walk in the fullness of their potential in line with the Millennium Development Goals.
4. GCN’s Mission
GCN’s mission is to resocialise girls so that they articulate their individual and collective rights and strategically position themselves to take charge of their own empowerment, mobilize whole communities to eradicate patriarchal structures that dominate the home, school, and community, to promote and protect the rights of the girl child, ensure girls at risk and most vulnerable to abuse are rescued and empowered to speak out and, through provision of safe shelter and strong referral to legal and medical aid, stand up to defend their rights, support and promote girls to be in school and advocates for a violence free school environment so that girls get maximum benefits from education
5. GCN’s Goal
To protect and promote the rights of the girl child and to support the economic, political, social and cultural empowerment of the girl child in order for her to assert those rights in the home, school and community
6. GCN Values and Culture
GCN is committed to seven fundamental values, namely, innovation, integrity, excellence, passion, transparency, professionalism and empathy
7. GCN’s Geographical Coverage
GCN covers 10 provinces with 40 districts out of 58 districts in Zimbabwe, with a population of over 6,9million out of 13 million people. 80 % of GCN work is in the rural areas, 10 % in the high densely populated suburbs and the other 10 % is shared between farming, mining and low density areas. GCN plans to continue expanding in order to cover all the districts in the country.
8. Principal Thematic Areas
These are Gender Equality and Equity, Gender Based Violence, Education, Human Rights, Reproductive Rights, Poverty Alleviation, HIV/AIDS, Livelihoods.
9. GCN’s Interventional Strategies
GCN has put in place several structured prevention, mitigation, rehabilitation, reintegration and empowerment interventional strategies each well streamlined to cater for girls’ specific needs.
9.1 Girls Empowerment Clubs
Established in schools and communities, these have been set as the rightful platform for girls where they engage in a diversity of empowerment programmes and activities in order to realize their full potential and to stand against all atrocities targeted at them. Girls’ clubs are strategic in that they are the heart and creative center of the organization.
9.2 Community Development and Empowerment
GCN has a holistic vision for empowering girls and women in all aspects of society, through addressing abuses that are discovered among the girls in the clubs and women in the wider communities. Programme also conducts capacity building for girls and women to enable them to own and sustain programs and structures for future development
9.3 Advocacy, Lobby and Law Implementation
Most of the problems girls face have resulted from the absence of a girls friendly society with policies, laws and socio-economic structures that promote and protect girls’ and women’s rights. Programme ensures such a society and the eradication and minimization of obstacles that hinder the development and empowerment of girls and women
9.4 Information, Documentation and Dissemination
The vulnerability of girls and the failure by communities to reduce this vulnerability and to respond to their plight has emanated from the lack of information that promote the realization and enjoyment of girls’ and women’s rights. GCN thus developed a culture of documentation & dissemination of information from girls to stakeholders and vice versa.
9.5 Girls at Risk Support Program
Having realized that there are other girls who miss GCN’s train of empowerment and end up in risk situations, GCN devised this program to respond to the needs of such girls and also capacitate communities to respond to their plight during difficult situations. It institutes the Survivor Protection & Support strategy that seeks to urgently address the concerns and the plight of girls at risk, particularly sexually abused girls.
9.6 Girls Empowerment Villages
These are strategically positioned across Zimbabwe and serve as information dissemination as well as service provision and relief centers for abused girls through mitigation & case management. The goal is to give a sense of hope to abused girls who, through their rehabilitation, are transformed from victims to survivors and leaders.
10. Some of GCN’s Achievements, Successes, Best practices, Awards and Nominations
q Establishment and Development of Girls’ Empowerment Clubs
q Individual, household and social transformation mainly involving girls
q Media Sensitivity to Issues of Child Abuse particularly Sexual Abuse
q GCN mobilized the whole nation to campaign against child sexual abuse
q Improving Girls’ Access to Information, Resources and Referrals
q Improving Access to Justice for Survivors of Rape and Abuse
q Successful Advocacy and Lobbying for laws and policies that meet the special needs of girl children
q Established excellent relations with donors and key stakeholders based on mutual trust and confidence
q Improving girls access to education through their reinstatement and retention in school.
GCN also enjoys worldwide acclaim with awards and prizes to the organisation and the Founding Executive Director, Betty Makoni, on the promotion of children’s rights as well as innovative and best preventative strategies in child abuse. Notable amongst these are:
q Global Friends Award and Children’s Jury Prize awarded by the World’s Children Prize for the Rights of the Child 2007
q Selected to be a fellow for the Internationally acclaimed Ashoka Fellowship
q The UN Red Ribbon Award-2006 for addressing gender inequalities that fuel the HIV/AIDS pandemic
q Inspired the Women World Summit Innovative and Preventative Strategies Against Child Abuse Prize, awarded annually on World Day for Prevention of Child Abuse- 19 November. This was at one time named the Prize Betty Makoni
q Prize for Women’s Creativity in Rural Life, awarded by the Women’s World Summit Foundation, Switzerland, October 2003.
q Nominated and Registered as a Human Rights Defender by the Frontline Human Rights Defenders, 2003
q Certificate of Recognition of Remarkable Individuals from Around the World, awarded by Global Philanthropy Forum on Borderless Giving.
GCN is also featured in various websites, books, publications as a good or best practice, e.g. “Women who Light the Dark” by Paola Gianturco to be launched in 2007, Firelight Foundation’s “From Faith to Action” and Novib`s KIC Project where GCN is featured as a case study on Rights Based Approach.
11. GCN Governance and Staffing Structure
GCN governing bodies are the Board and National Girls Executive Committee (NGEC) The Board is the supreme governance body of the organisation and comprises of 11 members chaired by an empowered woman role model. Board members are professionals who have knowledge and skills in leadership, financial management, fundraising, child participation, harmful beliefs & practices, HIV/AIDS and Children’s Rights & Protection. The (NGEC) is a 14-member body representing girls at the highest level and democratically elected at an Annual General meeting by the GCN membership. It is there to ensure that there is child participation in the planning, implementation and evaluation of all GCN programs. It is made up of girls who are GCN club members and is the voice and mouth-piece of all the girls who constitute the organization’s membership across the country. GCN staffing structure comprises of the Executive Director, Programme Coordinators, Programme Officers, Finance Officers, Administrative Officers, Empowerment Village Officers, Program Assistants, Administrative Assistants, Accounts Clerks, Team Assistants, Village Matrons and Child Monitors, Internal Security Assistants, Cleaning and Catering Services Assistants.
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