From 1999 Muzvare Betty Makoni supported thousands of girls in Zimbabwe to transform from perceived victims to leaders and many now walk in the fullness of their potential. Girl Child Network Zimbabwe turned 10 on 21 March 2009.She has every reason to celebrate her achievements especially now that her original girls empowerment model has been replicated in many parts of the world especially in Africa where such work is thriving in Sierra Leone, Uganda and Swaziland. Her efforts to build a strong movement of empowered girls round the world is a dream come true with her new charity set up in UK.
Muzvare Betty Makoni (BA Gen, BA Special Hons) is Founder and current Chief Executive Officer of Girl Child Network Worldwide, a registered international organisation championing for empowerment and education of girls in Africa since 2009. From 1998 to 2008 after founding Girl Child Network in Zimbabwe she worked with over 350 000 girls over a decade and helped many of them to grow into confident women leaders that they are today. With her proactive and preventative girls empowerment model which has been replicated in over 10 countries worldwide, she churned out thousands of girls from poor backgrounds who are in various careers previously dominated by men.
In her many high profile titles, millions across the world passionately call her CNN Hero as she was the top in 2009 category for Protecting the Powerless and was honoured by Goodwill Ambassador Nicole Kidman. Recently in UK she was presented with the Prestigious Profile In Courage award for her role to stop FGM and harmful cultural practices in UK and Africa. In her many other community leadership roles she is an Ashoka Fellow, CNN hero, UK Diaspora Changemaker and an officially approved and awarded Motivational Speaker of the year-2014 in UK . Her career spans over many years as a gender activist to UK Gender Based Expert with special focus on girls she is today. In her tribe and many African Royal communities round the world, she holds an official title Muzvare-Her Royal Highness-The Princess and recently she was officially installed as a Yeye Ashiwaju Omoba translated means Mother of and Leader of African Princesses by Princess Deun Adedoyin Solarin of Nigeria which is the highest honour an African woman can get from her people.
Betty Makoni`s experience shaped her to be the advocate and champion for girls rights she is today. Orphaned at age 9, she grew up as one of the most poorest and marginalised African girls in the early 1980s and the education she attained up to degree level was through the Work For Your Education program where she became a child labourer at a middle girls` catholic school in Zimbabwe and it is this experience that shaped her to be the humanitarian she is today. In 1998 she founded the Girl Child Network in her home country and gave her time fundraising in order to build Girls Empowerment Villages that rehabilitated over 70 000 girls sexually abused. Realising what she had done to empower herself as a poor girl , she went back into the poorest areas of Zimbabwe with a leadership and mentorship program that inspired, motivated and empowered over 350 000 girls in school based clubs. Today Girl Child Network is a model is replicated in six African countries with her volunteer time to train, nurture and support many leaders. She has started a Girl Child Empowerment pilot project at a Girls School in Hackney, UK which has been a success story with recent launch of UN Day of the girl child.
Recently she was selected to be in the team of experts for Preventing Sexual Violence Initiative to be officially launched on 30 January 2013 by the UK Foreign Office. She joins the team as a Gender Based Violence expert. She is apparently developing her career as a gender based violence expert for recently she was selected to be part of the Team of experts to work on Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict an initiative by Foreign office. She says that she will work to save the most vulnerable and powerless women and girls and those invisible and therefore her activism to speak and advocate for women from her base in UK. Her efforts are focused in creating the Girls Empowerment and Education Fund to be managed by Girl Child Network Worldwide ensuring marginalised girls in Africa get support for their projects without bureaucracy and delays leading to loss of lives and human potential.
Despite the challenges, persecutions and trials and tribulations, Muzvare Betty Makoni has not stopped her humanitarian work to rescue and protect the most vulnerable women and children wherever she sees them suffering. She has become the spokesperson and advocate of the voiceless. She recently published her second book entitled Never again, not to any woman or girl again and has gone to inspire and speak to many women round the globe on the need to strengthen their work and build sustainable income at grassroots level to support whatever innovative strategies that alleviate poverty and violence.
Even though many associate Muzvare Betty Makoni with formation of Girl Child Network only, she has many organisations she formed like Ray of Hope in Zimbabwe which supports survivors of domestic violence at grassroots level. Her life was spent volunteering to shape policies and strategies of other big organisations like Oxfam Novib, UNAIDS and currently she is dedicated to supporting the work of Restored UK as a Trustee to ensure there is a strong global alliance to stop violence against women. Girls round the world have expressed gratitude to Muzvare Betty Makoni as they passionately call her by writing her story and making it a life donation that has inspired and empowered many girls round the world. One of her girls she admires the most Memory Bandera set up Girl Child Network Uganda where she helps many girls.
Muzvare Betty Makoni has a lifetime of volunteerism and service to many causes and has served on Oxfam Novib and UNAIDS Round Tables. She sits on many boards of high profile organisations like RESTORED UK and serves as Ambassador and Patron of Africa Achievers Award and Zimbabwe Achievers Awards. Muzvare Betty Makoni is the first woman to serve as Global Ambassador for UN 19 days of Activism for prevention of Child Abuse by Women World Summit an organisation with UN consultative status. Muzvare Betty Makoni recently accepted to be Patron of UK based Malawi Women`s Association, an organisation whose success she wants to see.
For all her hard and passionate work she has been featured by major television stations and global newspapers like Metro UK just recently as Woman of Courage, CNN, BBC, Huffington Post, Channel Five UK, New York Times, Marie Claire, Voice of America, The South African to name but a few. The world has responded by documenting the success of her work and the many beneficiaries whose lives were saved or transformed. CNN, Dalai Lama, World Children`s Prize and My Hero`s Project awarded Muzvare Betty Makoni as a hero. Zimbabwe Institute of Management awarded their first national contribution to Muzvare Betty Makoni. Her tribe where she is a royal officially conferred the Title Muzvare- Her Royal Highness The Princess to Muzvare Betty Makoni for saving girls lives. To her name are 42 global awards from the most Prestigious organisations in the world making her the most awarded African women where with the Decade Global Child Rights hero she became one of the honorary winners alongside President Nelson Mandela.
Muzvare Betty Makoni might be the highest honoured and awarded African woman in the world with 42 local, regional and global awards for innovation, commitment and passion for her work to protect over 300,000 girls in Zimbabwe. United Nations Red Ribbon award honoured Muzvare Betty Makoni and Girl Child Network as having the most innovative strategy for gender equality. Muzvare Betty Makoni is an Ashoka Fellow and singled out as one of the investors in poor and marginalised women and girls deserving of this life honour as a fellow. News Week named Betty as one of the 150 women who shake the world, alongside US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. An Honorary Decade Child Rights Hero award (2011) that Muzvare Betty Makoni received alongside President Nelson Mandela, who won the award, also shows the impact Muzvare Betty Makoni has made globally. In UK, Power Women named her Motivational speaker of the year.
Muzvare Betty Makoni is a published author of a poetry book, A woman, Once a Girl: Breaking Silence, which was recently launched in London. Her Autobiography Never Again, not on any woman or girl http://bettymakoni.authorsxpress.com/ is inspiring women round the globe. Her latest poetry book entitled, The Inspiring and Empowering World of Muzvare Betty Makoni celebrates many women who inspire her and also creates a 21st century rhythm for the women`s movement.
Muzvare Betty Makoni is a hostess of a women and girls empowerment program on Pamtengo Radio every Monday. She is also hostess of a radio program called Never Again whose title is taken from her official Autobiography and weekly featured on the popular Zimbabwean radio called Nehanda Radio.
Muzvare Betty Makoni is featured in best-selling books including Women Who Light the Dark by Paola Gianturco, On The Up by Nikki and Rob Wilson, as well as main subject in the award winning documentary, Tapestries of Hope, by U.S. Hollywood Director Michealene Risley. The Girl Child Network Empowerment Model which she started in 1998 has been singled out as Best Practice and included in University of Essex Journal for Human Rights 2010.
Recently she was crowned Pan African Princess by Princess Deun Adedoyin Solarin. Many awards from grassroots to the UN honour her work for excellence, innovation and passion for girls and women`s rights. She was selected amongst 150 women who shake the world-News of the World-2011, Top 12 List of African Caribbean Women in UK and Europe-AfroNews 2013, was featured in Metro UK as Woman of Courage -2012. She is a Published Author, Poet and the most well sought after Speaker, Mentor and Coach. Her work is featured in the major mainstream media around the world making it the most globally covered work of one of the once poorest girls in the world of the 1980s.
Girl Child Network in Zimbabwe formed in a poor high density suburb classroom in 1998 is now a global network for girls and women. Today many girls’ networks are all over the world. Her model for empowering and inspiring girls is the most replicated model in the world at the moment- whether formally or informally affiliated to Girl Child Network Worldwide.
Responsibilities, Accomplishments And Experience:
• Betty Makoni has played a leadership role in creating a dynamic organisation, with progressive programs, strong grassroots partners, 500 girls’ clubs, an active board, effective staff, 200 supportive volunteers, 20 funding partners, mainstreamed Gender and HIV/AIDS in all programs targeting girls and communities
• She is now responsible for fundraising for the annual budget in GCN. Between 1999 to date, she has managed to identify locally based and international funding partners and long term funding partners for GCN and managed to build strong alliances with among others, Stephen Lewis Foundation, Netherlands Organization for international Development Co-operation (Novib), Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), Pacific Institute for Women’s Health, International Development Exchange (IDEX), Firelight Foundation, Global Fund for Women, United States of America Embassy, India Arts (USA), Whole Child Initiative, Global Catalyst, Women World Summit Foundation (WWSF), Zimbabwe Appeal Fund (UK), Urgent Action Fund for Women’s Rights (USA), Oxfam GB, Egmont Trust, Royal Netherlands Embassy, UNICEF, European Commission, Medica Mondi ale,
• Provide feedback and guidance on the appropriateness of proposed policies within the organisation’s mission, vision and values. To date assisted GCN come up with the Accounting and Procedures Manual, Personnel Policy, HIV/AIDS At The Workplace Policy, Safe house policy and Volunteer Policy.
Other responsibilities and Honors
• International Guest Program Scholarship at the International Center for Tolerance Education in New York, U.S.A. (January 1-March 30,2007)
• Nominated to be Zimbabwe’s Global Call Against Poverty (GCAP) Ambassador for 2006
• International Scholarship, XVI International Aids Conference by the International AIDS Society, Toronto Canada (August 2006)
• Women World Summit, Switzerland, established the annual Prize Betty Makoni for Prevention of Child Abuse, celebrated World Wide on 19 November in recognition of my work combating child abuse at the grassroots level.
• Prize for Women’s Creativity in Rural Life by the Women World Summit, Switzerland (October 2003)
• Nominated and Registered Human Rights Defender for The 2nd Dublin Platform for Human Rights Defenders organised by Frontline Defenders of Human Rights Defenders (September 2003)
• Certificate in Recognition of Remarkable Individuals from Around The World, Global Philanthropy Forum on Borderless Giving, USA (June 2003)
2008: Collection and deposition of evidence for rape survivors during political Violence in Zimbabwe in partnership with AIDS FREE WORLD
2006: 1000 Worst Rape Cases – Rape cases in the 0-16 years age group in schools, churches, by high profile people, strangers and relatives
2004 – Gender Based Violence Desk Study (August 1998 to August 2004 in Retrospect)
2005 – Activism Around Violence Against Girls In Zimbabwe
2003 – Action Research on HIV/AIDS and Girls’ Reproductive Health And Effects of Shortage of Sanitary Towels on the Reproductive Health of the Girl Child In Zimbabwe- funded by the Pacific Institute for Women’s Health.
1996 – University of Zimbabwe Fourth Year Special Honors: Research Thesis on The Role of Theatre for Development in Development. Developed and Administered Women’s Performing Arts Groups and carried out a comparative analysis of grassroots communication mediums and Theatre for Development to determine the role played by theatre in participatory development at grassroots level. Thereafter incorporated findings in designing a grassroots development organization, Girl Child Network
Training Material Produced
How to start and run Girl Child Network clubs; Management of Child Sexual Abuse In The Community; Confidence Building; Report And Project Proposal Writing; Care givers Course; Leadership Principles; HIV/AIDS, Virginity Testing And Human Rights; A Guide to Self Help Projects; Self Empowerment Kit for Girls; Team Building
Selected Papers and Presentation
• The Girl Child In The Era of HIV and AIDS – Paper presented at International XVI AIDS Conference, Ontario, Canada, August 2006
• Southern African Regional Violence Against Women – Paper presented at Regional Partnership Seminar, Johannesburg, Kapanong Hotel, 8-13 May 2006
• Impact of HIV and AIDS on Education in the SADC Region – regional workshop on guidance Counseling and HIV and AIDS, Manchichi Bay Lodge, Lake Kariba in Zambia, 20-24 March 2006,
• Gender Based violence preventive strategy –International Conference on Gender Based violence, Royal Swazi Sun Convention Centre Swaziland- hosted by SWAGAA, March 6-8, 2006
• Culture And HIV with focus on the Girl Child – Oxfam Regional HIV/AIDS Policy, Law and Women’s Rights Partnership Program/Planning Workshop, Kopanong Hotel, Johannesburg, South Africa, 12-13 April 2005
• Linking Gender Based Violence and HIV/AIDS with focus on the Girl Child-Southern African Regional Mainstreaming Symposium, Sun International Hotel, Mbambane, Swaziland, 5-7 April 2005
• HIV and AIDS and The Girl Child at The Auxillia Chimsoro Awards –Future Group Ceremony, Royal Harare Golf Club, 2 December 2004
• The Girl Child and HIV/AIDS in Zimbabwe – paper presented during celebrations to mark International World AIDS Day – Chinhenga Community Celebrations, Nyanga, 26 November 2003
• Target Beneficiary And Humanitarian Assistance for Orphaned Girls-GCN as a case study-Paper presented At Rotary International Club of Avondale, Harare, 4 November 2003
• The Rural Girl Child In Zimbabwe And GCN As A Model Of Change -Paper presented at the Prize For Women’s creativity in rural life by Women’s World Summit Foundation Geneva Switzerland, 15 October 2003
• Women’s Rights Are Human Rights-Frontline for Human Rights Defenders, Ireland, Dublin, 10-12 September 2003
• Strategies Addressing Education, Health and Human Development in Zimbabwe – Girl Child Network as an Effective model. Plenary Session, Global Philanthropy Forum USA, June 2003
• Overview of Girl Child In Zimbabwe, paper presented to US-based donors to include Global Fund For Women, Firelight Foundation, Global Exchange, International Development Exchange, USA. June 2002
• Empowering Women at The Grassroots, The Plight of The Girl Child In Zimbabwe, Non-formal Education As a Platform For Social Change, Papers presented at the Grant Makers Without Borders, USA, 2002
• Raising Awareness on HIV/AIDS, Children’s Rights And Virginity Testing, Mhandara days, Osborne Dam, December 2002.
Continued Professional Development
(Courses, Conferences, Seminars)
• Accelerating the ratification of AU protocol on Women’s Rights – South Africa, Johannesburg, 22-24 May 2006
• Interaction Leadership Training, sponsored by The British Council, January, August 2005
• Advanced Training of Trainers Workshop, Nisaa Institute for Women Development South Africa, 25-30 July 2003
• Global Campaign for the Ratification And Use Of The Optional Protocol to the CEDAW Convention, Cape Town, South Africa, 19-21 November 2003
• Needs Assessment for Capacity Building of National Gender Machineries for Gender Equality in SADC Member states, Nyanga, 23 September 2003
• Fundraising Training on Dealing with Major and small donors from by International Development Exchange (IDEX), 23 June 2002
• Training Workshop On “How To Create Circles of Compassion” organized by Women’s World Summit Foundation in partnership with the Millionth Circle Initiative Centre International Reforme-John Knox Geneva, Switzerland, 17-19 October 2003
• Gender And HIV/AIDS Mainstreaming, Royal Netherlands Embassy, Imba Matombo Harare, 5 November 2002
• African Women’s Leadership Institute Training organised by Akina Mama wa Afrika based in UK, 6-14 June 2002
• Results Based Management And Gender. Canadian International Development Agency workshop, Kadoma Ranch, 4-9 January 2002
• National Action Plan for Zimbabwe on Commonwealth Model Framework For An Integrated Approach To Combat Violence Against Women, Montclair, Nyanga 2-4 May 2001
• Financial Management And Its Integration With Organisational And Programme Management Workshop Sponsored By Netherlands International Development Cooperation (NOVIB), Bronte Hotel, Harare, 12-16 November, 2001
• International Visitor Program- Management Of Ngos And Tour of United States Of America Meeting with Various NGOS And Learning Best Practices, 18 May-23 June, 2001
• Investigating And Managing Child Abuse Within A Multi Sectoral Framework, US Embassy Harare, Detective. Sgt. Walliker, Family Service Division, Police Department, Portland, Oregon, 31 August 2000
• Southern African Regional Workshop On Sheltering for Abused Women, Conference Centre, Johannesburg, 13-14 November 2000
Canada (2006), Ethiopia (1994), Holland (1998, 2005, 2006), Ireland (2000), Kenya (2004, 2005), South Africa (1998, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2005, 2006 2007n 2008), Swaziland (2005, 2006), Switzerland (2003), United Kingdom (1994, 2001, 2003, 2004), United States Of America (1998, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2007), Zambia (2006) Uganda 2004 2006 2008) Senegal (2006 2007 2008) Tanzania(2005 2008) Sweden (2007)