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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)

 

All set for Never Again Royal Night Second Anniversary-5 April 2014

Never Again Royal Night Second Anniversary is here -5 April 2014-The Thurrock Hotel

It is now the talk of UK and many parts of the world where Royal Purple guests and their Royal Hostesses who are Princesses from Africa who support the charity work of Girl Child Network Worldwide gather to inspire, empower and do acts of generosity and giving back to their communities back in Africa. It is definitely growing as more and more supporters pour in.

Never Again Royal night is now in its second year having been successfully launched in 2013 in the peaceful and quiet hotel in Thurrock, Essex, United Kingdom. The event was full house with over 200 guests coming from all over UK and Zimbabwe. This year the event enters its second year with another best-selling book by Muzvare Betty Makoni expected to be launched in style on 5 April 2014. Event organisers have advised that in order for guests and participants to get the most out of the day, this time the event starts at 3pm sharp with book signing and networking as well as pictures on the purple carpet to ensure everyone gets the time to network fully as well as warm up to the empowering inspiring event.

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Muzvare Betty Makoni`s official autobiography, Never Again, not to any woman or girl again, birthed this event and the trustees and supporters of Girl Child Network Worldwide have made this the official fundraiser for the charity where it is now a culture to bring all supporters, donors and those who want to build the charity to grow and be strong to come to a weekend  of inspiration and empowerment so as to get a test of some innovative programs the charity runs especially in Africa and the UK to support empowerment of the girl child in the home, school and community so that the girls develop into confident women leaders.

`It happens once a year and this is the only official fundraiser for the charity just to bring everyone who supports us and spend some quality time renewing our commitment. Never again Royal night is an event we inspire our supporters whilst they give. We believe as much as our supporters give to us we should give back and no matter how small. You are all invited to be part of Never Again Royal night,’ said Muzvare Betty Makoni. 

The Royal Night
The Royal Night

The event is hosted by CNN Hero and multi global award winner UK gender based violence expert and Founder of Girl Child Network Worldwide, Muzvare-Princess Betty Makoni and Chair of Trustees , Her Royal Highness, Princess Deun Adedoyin Solarin who are expected to announce  African Royal Awards to eight women who are role models and heroes for girls empowerment worldwide. This is the first time a book to be launched on same day written by Muzvare Betty Makoni entitled The Inspiring and Empowering World of Muzvare Betty Makoni is expected to bring a poetic rhythm into the women`s lives that will unite everyone in supporting each other as well as girls who are at risk and those living in places of instability, harmful cultural where there are no rights.

This year, Never Again Royal night is expected to be bigger with a line-up of great inspirational speakers and guests from all over the world. Notable amongst those special guests is New York`s finest poet, Tantra Zawadi who is flying into UK for one of her greatest performances at the event. She will be signing copies of her new poetry book, Bubblesalongside Muzvare Betty Makoni. Esse Agesse, one of the best female Nigerian musicians of all times now based in Ireland besides receiving a prestigious award at the event is hoped to share on her project Women of Love International which last year supported Girl Child Network Worldwide and its networks. The musical couple Femi Iloyi and Roucheon Iloyi will perform the long awaited song, Never again which is expected to bring guests to an unending dance. Roy Mourton, the music man is expected to welcome the guests with his solo music.

At the driving seat and event Program Director is Pauline Long, Founder of BEFFTA who contributed immensely during the program in 2013 to make it a big success. She will be assisted by Vonayi Nyamazana Founder of Khaya Inspired women and Secretary General of African Charities Joint Fundraising Initiative.

Never Again Royal night is honoured to welcome some guest speakers amongst them to  include  Ifrah Amhed a renowned  FGM activist and campaigner  all the way from Ireland. Anita BradshawSpiwe Harper, Lindani MasukuFikelephi Jackson, Sandra Lewis, Angelah Gomah, Leah African Designer  and Florence Jemwa Kadondo are some guests who will inspire and empower guests throughout the night. Evangelist Elizabeth Kalonga is expected to spiritually grace the occasion.

Even though exact names of the women to be honoured has not been officially released but on the shortlisted candidates so far are big names like Her Excellency Joyce Banda, motivational speaker Glo Diamond,Tola ‘WiseTola’ Onigbanjo, Susan Jumoke Fajana-Thomas,Lorna Campbell and many others whose names will be announced here shortly. Out of a list of 106 the two are on the short list which remains a top and official secret of the African Princesses. 

Book Critics and readers to include Theresah Tholanah, Linda Kute, Mary Ajoke Akangbe, Patricia Tsiga,Bongie Williams, Annalia Mugomba  and many others.

A number of sponsors have confirmed.There are many products that will be on sale and they will be announced here too.

Payment Direct to Charity Account

Put your name as Reference 40 £. This amount includes  £24 dinner without drink  and £16 donation to the  charity. Charity Account Name :Girl Child Network Worldwide, Account number 0387284,Sort Code 309784

Logistics, travel and Accommodation

Hotel name and phone numbers   The Thurrock Hotel ,Ship Lane, Aveley, RM19 1YN Grays Thurrock, Thurrock, United Kingdom

Telephone number:01708 860222

 

Betty Makoni celebrates girls emerging as leaders from Girl Child Network Zimbabwe

When Betty Makoni founded Girl Child Network in Zimbabwe in 1998 with ten of her students, she had a much bigger vision in mind. She wanted to groom the next generation of women leaders starting when they were young. Girl Child Network Zimbabwe set up over 700 girls clubs in over 42 districts of Zimbabwe which to roll out a  major program of the organisation to train leaders. It costs not much to set up a girls club as a teacher or community leader and impart leadership and empowerment skills. The curriculum developed for girls empowerment is life changing.

Some ten years down the line some girls who got inspired have formed their own organisations, their own styles, their own beliefs and in ways they think other children can get help. On our plant we thank all girls who are now leaders and have come up with initiatives to help other girls. The seed we planted continues to grow and benefit even more children and that is all we wanted to see. And we thank our young women who write to say thank you for all the work we all accomplished together.

The reason to form Girl Child Network in Zimbabwe was not to monopolise it and centralise everything. We had a desire to see the Network grow and spread out into a movement and daily stories like this inspire us. Daily we find a girl or woman standing up to change the world. Today we ask the world to notice this crop of new leaders who despite challenges and poverty, they sacrifice their time and resources to help. The young women may be invisible but the work of Girl Child Network is to identify such good work and recommend it for support. Please read below and help our girls as much as you have helped us to grow and be where we are.

`My name is Kudakwashe Khuleya.I am a former member of the Girl Child Network. I was a member at Bindura Primary school in 2003-2004. This year I founded a non-profit charity that helps fund the education of underprivileged children in Zimbabwe. I would really appreciate if you could help us get more funding and sponsorship.`

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