Category Archives: Be Inspired &Empowered by Speaker

Full Text of Muzvare Betty Makoni’s Speech on how Climate change is affecting women and girls in Africa and whither to Africa

Dinesh Napal and fellow Development Forum Student Committee members at the School of Oriental and African Studies (London, United Kingdom) invited Muzvare Makoni to give a keynote speech on energy, environment and gender. The SOAS African Development Forum 2017 was held at the Khalili Lecture Theatre at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), Bloomsbury, London on Saturday 18 March 2017. Her speech was well received and those who attended said they felt energised to go out in their careers and leadership positions and impact lives.

I am delighted to join African Development Forum in this annual conference whose theme is “Energy and Agency: Fuelling Africa`s growth.”  My keynote address focuses on link between gender and the environment. I will unpack how climate change affects women and girls. Climate change leads to unpredictable weather patterns like violent storms, droughts and harsh weather (extreme cold or hot).  This consequently affects food security. Girls are affected by age and gender. Since girls are considered inferior to boys there are consequences of early forced marriages of convenience for food security. Women and girls are abused for food and they get sexually exploited. I will therefore also look at gender based violence like sexual abuse, forced marriages and other harmful cultural practices post natural disasters. There is a link between climate change and gender based violence. When there are natural disasters women and girls suffer more due to displacements, poverty, disease, loss of livelihoods and lives and marginalisation. I have witnessed women and girls falling victim to all forms of violence because that post natural disaster period has no holistic interventions.

As you are aware, Africa has a population of over 1.2 billion people and it is the world’s second-largest and second-most-populous continent. As you are aware 6 countries face feminine and even my country of origin had devastating cyclone that left many women and children homeless and displaced in mostly rural areas. Climate change has adversely affected livelihoods and as you are aware most rural women depend on livelihoods. Per “Our Poverty Africa Organisation” poverty has sharply fallen in other parts of the world from 40% to 20%. However, in Africa over 40% of people living in sub-Saharan Africa live in abject poverty.

I grew up an environment where women were second class citizens and the gender injustice they suffered was to do household chores where hard labour was needed daily. I used to wonder how much household work I had to do compared to my brother. I had to fetch water in the morning, firewood in the afternoon and the whole day I spent cooking and washing dishes. Males simply knew how to eat the food whilst I had to know how to prepare it and then serve them. In situations of natural disasters, girls and women are This is what gave me the vision to start Girl Child Network so that we catch girls whilst young.

For centuries, African women have relied on tilling the land, fetching water, washing clothes and their bodies by the river side, fetching fire wood and gardening. Women co-existed with nature and learnt how to sustain the food and energy it gives. Women have exceptional knowledge on seasons and they interact with normal seasons as part of their life pattern. But with climate change, many have not been able to cope as natural disasters like what recently happened in Zimbabwe and Mozambique left them homeless and helpless. Natural disasters exposed women and girls to trafficking, prostitution, slavery, and sexual exploitation. According to the Guardian, there are many issues to do with deforestation as energy needs arise and global warming continue to be worse because of emissions from agriculture and forestry.

As you are all aware, Africa largely depends on donor aid which comes in pilot projects, two year projects or projects that last a few days. These are not owned by the women and girls but by donor aid workers who fund them.  There has never been clear impact of how these projects support women and girls’ empowerment post natural disasters. Not many of them have a theme on energy or climate and yet these two affect women and girls daily. The post natural disaster time is not the priority of most governments either.  Most of Africa is struggling more with leadership than resources. Leadership in the continent is male dominated and traditional gender roles of women are still very strong in some countries or where they are addressed, it is just piece meal. Not many women occupy government positions for food, climate and security even if ironically most women make the food. Therefore, there is not only crisis from natural disasters but there is more crisis when those most affected by such natural disasters have no solutions or are not provided resources to help them rebuild their lives.

As it is now, renewable sources of energy are being developed in Africa. Energy revolution in Africa does not have the involvement of women. Solar energy is a huge resource that could bring clean energy to save women from hard labour and lung diseases because of inhaling too much mono oxide in closed huts. The design and production of solar energy has not reached women. That could cut down a huge portion of trees burnt to bring energy to cook. River banks could be developed to provide irrigation. New figures from the UN’s World Food Programme say 40 million people in rural areas and 9 million in urban centres who live in the drought-affected parts of Zimbabwe, Mozambique, South Africa, Zambia, Malawi and Swaziland will need food assistance in the next year. Per the Guardian at the current rate of progress some 637 million people, mainly in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia will still not have enough to eat in 2030.

There are some specific energy issues I wish to focus on. The main sources of energy in Africa for domestic use are firewood, agricultural waste, coal and paraffin. Women and girls in Africa have the responsibility to ensure availability of primary energy source. They walk long distances to fetch firewood. In addition to fetching firewood, there is burden placed on women and girls to cook. Cooking in closed huts results in women and girls inhaling smoke resulting in respiratory diseases. If men are more involved in roles traditionally done by women joint efforts could lead to better solutions.

All hope is not lost as there are solutions. Improved stoves are already developed. There is less use of firewood and less labour to fetch firewood. However, there are challenges that not many want to eliminate the traditional open fire place as it also provides heat and lightning. Fireplaces are considered inefficient due to massive heat loss. Fireplaces have a traditional value and sometimes women and girls are forced to conform to traditional values. There could be community solar schemes for battery charging to provide lightning. The use of biogas digesters to provide gas for cooking and lighting using agricultural waste like cow dung could be a solution even for displace families because of natural disasters. Governments in Africa should make electricity accessible for domestic use and agriculture.  There needs support for women and girls as decision matters in such energy revolution projects. As it stands, gender inequality and gender based violence hinder mitigation of effects of climate changes by women as they are not in decision making positions even though they are the most affected.

In conclusion, policy needs to address the role of women as decision makers in energy issues and climate change. As it stands, women are not considered as adding value to energy issues yet they put in more labour effort than men. The womens true value and economic value is not recognised. Men tend to be decision makers in energy issues without considering inputs or concerns of women or understanding womens role in energy security. Central governments in Africa tend to look at “bigger” energy issues like electricity without considering energy issues affecting rural people who are majority in Africa. It is time issues of gender equality be challenged at every level of society and ensure sufficient/equitable representation of women at all levels of policy/ decision making in society.

Full Programme of the day and a list of speakers and panellists

11:00- 11:10– Opening address (Mashood Baderin TBC)

11:15- 12:30– Women’s agency panel (Chair person: Colette Harris, Panelists: Rainatou Sow, Awino Okech and TBC x1)

12:30- 13:30– Break (arts and crafts stalls in JCR, food stalls outside)

13:30- 14:45– Resource conflicts panel (Chair person: TBC, Panelists: Tomi Oladipo, Lily Kuo, TBC x1)

14:45- 15:00– Break (arts and crafts stalls in JCR, food stalls outside)

15:00- 16:15– Climate change panel (Chair person: Harold Heubaum, Panelists: TBC x3)

16:15- 16:30– Break (arts and crafts stalls in JCR, food stalls outside)

16:30- 17:30– Keynote speaker (Betty Makoni in conversation with Tomi Oladipo)

7:30- 18:30– Reception (musical performance and drinks in area outside KLT)

 

Your Story Matters Event in London- About meeting Ash White

I get the honour to be invited to speak at many events in UK and worldwide.  Your Story Matterswww.yourstorymatters.com  Speaking Event as in the flier below was just a unique event for me.

I met women of substance  at Your Story matters on 24 September 2016, who shared inspiring stories and one of them was Ash White. Did you hear what she thought about me? Below is her story and hope it inspires you. I was inspired by Ash`s story too.

 Ash just reminded me to make it urgent to meet women like her. I have assisted thousands of women and girls all my life and what Ash wrote as a testimony on my speech let me wanting to inspire more. Thank you Ash. Please enjoy the story below by none other than her:

I have never met anybody like Muzvare-Princess Betty Makoni before. What a precious jewel! This was my first speaking engagement and I was mind blown that I got to speak alongside women so influential! I never imagined that the Lord would open such a door so soon! Thank you again Rhoda Harriet Khataba

Muzvare explained about when she received the official royal title of Muzvare and that it means ‘Her Royal Highness-The Princess’. She explained that when you address her as Muzvare you address the whole community including her husband who people tend to forget about as he is not in the spotlight. What a beautiful display of honour!

This lady is a world renowned gender activist and her STORY will have you in tears!! She became an orphan at 8 or 9 after her mother was beaten to death so she became the parent to her 6 siblings straight away. What a strong woman, a phenomenal woman phenomenally. There is so much more to Muzvare’s inspiring story than what I have said so please look her up and check out her 600 page book ‘Never Again’.

Of all the things that Muzvare said that blessed me yesterday there are 2 things she DID that ministered to me personally:

1. She cried- When she broke down talking about how her young brother was drowned. I cried too and felt further release from my own pain. I was always told I was too sensitive when I was younger and to see such a pillar of strength break down in tears moved me so much and gave me permission to cry also.

2. She affirmed me!! Muzvare took notes on all of the speakers and had a message for all of us individually and she said to me ‘My sister, we believe you’. All I could say was ‘thank you’ while tears streamed down my face.

You don’t know how much I wanted to be believed for years, always felt I had to fight to be heard while the truths of my life were hidden.

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All the speakers stories left me with something but Muzvare…I really was in the presence of royalty and could feel it from when she first walked into the room.

Press Release: European Sustainability Academy 3rd Annual Women Empowerment Summit-Greece

Please Note: Girl Child Network Worldwide shares this press release in solidarity with European Sustainability Academy where its Chief Executive Officer will be a speaker.
European Sustainability Academy (ESA) to host leading UK Business Woman, Rachel Elnaugh of Dragon’s Den (the influential business oriented BBC TV series) at the 3rd Annual Women Empowerment Conference and WISE Gala Dinner and Graduation to support Sustainable Entrepreneurship in Greece


The European Sustainability Academy marks the successful end of the EU-Funded WISE (Women Innovators in Sustainable Enterprise) program, with the 3rd Women Empowerment Conference in Drapanos, Chania on the 25th and 26th of September 2015. With a high profile international guest list, including Dragon’s Den Star and serial Entrepreneur Rachel Elnaugh, ESA visiting African Princess Muzvare Betty Makoni among other special guests to be announced. This conference will be a milestone for the entrepreneurial agenda in Crete, and beyond.
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The event grasps firmly on sustainable business and Rachel will share her insightful knowledge with WISE participants, as they pitch innovative business ideas to a panel of experienced and influential business leaders.
Against the backdrop of the economic crisis in Greece, and its sheer need for business development and job growth, Founder of ESA Sharon Jackson, is determined to provide inspiration and international business support to the local community and economy in manifold ways, and the WE series of conferences is one of them. The goal is for it to evolve into a platform on which business-boosting and innovation initiatives for both men and women entrepreneurs will be built and launched, as to also attract international business leaders, academics and promote sustainable tourism in Crete.

As Sharon Jackson said of the event, “We are delighted to be hosting Rachel Elnaugh at ESA to celebrate women in entrepreneurship. It is well documented that women entrepreneurs can be effective drivers for economic growth. We aim to inspire Greek women to overcome barriers to creating and sustaining business, and feel this is a great way to mark the graduation of our WISE women as they commit to their entrepreneurial journey, pioneering business leadership locally.”
The programme will include:
25th September 2015
Lunch and Conference Workshops on Business Skills
Evening event: Dragon’s Den-style event for WISE participants
26th September
WISE Gala Dinner and Graduation Ceremony
Early booking is strongly recommended as this is likely to be a sell-out event. You will have the opportunity to meet and network with influential business leaders, in a rare and informal setting, at the European Sustainability Academy.
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Tickets will be available at Go to Eventbrite link here

3rd Women Empowerment Summit and WISE Graduation Gala,Click Facebook here

About ESA:
The European Sustainability Academy is the realization of the vision of Sharon Jackson, inspired by her experiences of running sustainable business leadership programs in areas of breathtaking natural beauty such as Tasmania, Australia and Chamonix in the French Alps.

ESA provides training and development programs for business managers, owners and organizational leaders to learn about sustainable business and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). It is also a superb venue for corporate retreats – especially those with a view to bringing a sustainable perspective to their agenda.
The ESA teaching philosophy is one of ‘applied sustainability’. That involves bringing the best academic research to inform practical business action. With a strong emphasis on action learning, all ESA management and leadership programs are designed to be highly stimulating for participants.
About WISE

WISE is a game-changing learning and development program for 60 women across Greece, Spain and Croatia. The WISE project is partly funded by the EU Life-long learning program and its main partners are ESADE Business School -Spain, HUB Zagreb – Croatia and ESA Greece. The participants (60 women from 3 countries /20 from each) have attended a series of virtual meetings and webinars and created a strong, supportive on- line community on Facebook, via which they share news, acquire new knowledge and exchange business ideas. The vision of a WISE woman is to be a ‘conscious, confident person who has the clarity, community and courage to identify and seize entrepreneurial opportunities to make impact and bring about positive change’.

Contacts/info:

Sharon Jackson: Sharon.Jackson@Eurosustainability.org (;)
Katerina Kapernarakou: aikape@gmail.com, 0030-697402904 (;)
Yannis Maleganos: John.Maleganos@eurosustainability.org(;)

ESA facebook: www.facebook.com/European.Sustainability.Academy

WISE web: www.wise4women.eu

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