Muzvare Betty Makoni is a globally awarded girl child rights activist and community champion of over 22 years. She is the founder of Girl Child Network Worldwide. Recently, she completed MSc in Social Work degree at Royal Holloway University. With the knowledge, she gained she is working to raise awareness on all forms of child abuse and how parents in Black Ethnic Minority Communities in the UK can better understand the role of social workers when they contact them.
Her articles share simplified information for parents so that when social workers make contact with them until they complete work with their families, they know how to respond so that there are best outcomes for children. Many parents have no idea what would be going on and sometimes tend to resist working with social workers.
Disclaimer:These are not academic articles or lectures. These are simplified articles for parents who need such advice. Muzvare Betty Makoni’s views are not views for any organisations, groups or individuals she is associated with. These are her personal views.
There was a Live FB Broadcast on ZimEye on 10 June 2017, providing parents with tips on how to “block social services” when they come for home visits either for an assessment or intervention. Muzvare Betty Makoni was one of the contributors who advised the show presenter to seek knowledge of how social workers work with children and families before advising parents to block support that may save lives of children. Zimbabwe Social Workers Association in the UK was strongly recommended to parents who want to understand the role of social workers. They have a community event coming on 12 August 2017 which will be featured as one of the blog articles. The community event raises awareness on the role of social workers in communities and introduces some experts in various areas like child sexual exploitation, disability, the child in need, child protection, social work student support, adults and mental health and many others.Believe me, any parent’s worst nightmare is to receive a phone call about their child and something wrong with them. But we all receive them from teachers especially and we are told that a child came to school unkempt, or was naughty during lessons, or was rude, or fought with another student or they have detention. To be frank, if you are a parent, then expect anything and from anyone and anywhere. In our Shona proverb, we say, “Mugoni wepwere ndoasinaye,” meaning those who claim their kids are perfect then they have not experienced what it means to parent. We should therefore not ignore phone calls from social workers because they have an important role in protecting children from harm. When something is not okay with your child, it is brought to the attention of social workers to contact you and find more. We should not be in denial or be defensive as those things professionals are worried about may deteriorate if nothing is done and hamper full development of your child.
Parents panic, become anxious and angry when a social worker calls them. The first thought that comes to parents’ minds most probably is that children will be removed rather than the assistence they maybe entitled to with their child at home. Therefore, engaging parents whilst in this state of mind is very hard. However, parents should have the awareness that social workers do not just visit you or your child out of the blue. Social workers work with teachers, doctors, police and you as a parent to ensure children are safe. There are laws and policies that guide whatever they do with your family and so rest assured the law protects you as well. Here are a few simplified tips for you to engage social workers in a positive way and find ways to work together.
It is the normal procedure that they first call you over the phone. Sometimes they come to your house without letting you know. Either way, just keep a positive mind that this is about your child. Think positively about a social worker just like you do with a doctor, nurse, teacher or health visitor who communicates something about your child and they do not mean to do any harm at all. If anything, they might have identified something that might harm your child and want it prevented much earlier. Remain calm too!!!
Remain calm and welcome them if they identify themselves. Being rude or not cooperating does not help your child and family. The case might be that your child is having behavioural problems at school or in the community and they want to assess and find ways to work with you. Or they might have been informed your child is being abused by someone you don`t know. Do not ignore the first phone call or knock on the door. In our culture, we are very polite. We greet visitors and we give them somewhere comfortable to sit. Our culture is not aggressive at all.
Social workers explain what they are worried about with regards to your child. Listen carefully first. Remember, a lot of social workers are trained to listen to you and give you time to respond or share your story. They also understand emotions that may come out of your interaction with them and so as a parent feel free to express your emotions. At this stage, be reasonable and ask questions about what needs to happen, what your role as a parent should be and who else you can trust and can support you within your family and close friendship networks. Ask questions that move you forward rather than backward. Avoid being defensive and impossible. Again, this is about your child at risk and needing support to reach their development goals.
Share your story in an honest way. Social workers keep your information confidential and the law dictates that they only share your information with your consent. They always ask you to sign a consent form should you want an assessment to take place. Ask them to explain what consent form means. It means you allow them to go ahead with an assessment and that you are fine with them contacting other professionals like doctors, teachers, and police to get more information. Data Protection Act 1998 is the law that protects how they will use your information. So, rest assured your information will not be used wrongly. On your part, keep your information confidential and do not expose your child unnecessarily.
Ask social workers to explain what an assessment means. Most parents have no idea what it is. In its simplest form, an assessment is a way to gather as much information about the child and family so that a support plan to better the situation can be put in place. A decision on what risk a child faces can only be clear after an assessment. It is not true that once an assessment starts a social worker is in the process of removing a child. The law encourages social workers to keep families together. If you actively participate in a good assessment as a parent, you might identify areas you are strong or weak when it comes to parenting. In an assessment, you can find resources around you that can help you. It is about finding your strengths as well. Assessment is not an exam or test. There are never right or wrong answers but a good parent begins to rethink their way of life and where things are working or not working. A good assessment can be as simple as asking 3 important questions like 1. What are we worried about? 2. What is working? 3. What can we do to make it better? (This uses a model called signs of safety which I will explain in other articles later). So, during an assessment, you have an opportunity to think about these questions even without a social worker, keep assessing the situation as the child is yours. You have parental responsibility and this is granted by the law.
Disguised compliance- Ooops!! A bit of jargon here. Well, let me explain. Some parents do not do things to benefit their child but just do it because social worker says it should be done. For example, they may keep the house clean because social worker is coming but as soon as social worker leaves, they go back to a lifestyle that puts children at risk. In other words, some parents feel that they must do it because if they don’t then children will be removed. We will talk about this later. We want to find a more empowering role for parents to understand safeguarding their children should always be the priority. We protect our children before anyone else does.We are parents and our role is to genuinely care for our children.
Finally, do not torment(beat or insult) the child after social worker leaves. This is often taken as an emotional abuse of the child. Engage your child in discussions that support their growth. A child who is interrogated in the home becomes a prisoner in that home and this can affect them. Avoid venting anger on children or using bad words to insult them. Keep warm and supportive of your child. Motivate and inspire them on good relationships with you. A lot of parents beat children for opening on abuse. Some parents intimidate children. This does not help the situation. It makes it worse.
So, in this article, I have advised parents to be open minded and view the role of social workers calling them or visiting them in a more positive way. Prevention is better than cure. I have advised parents that communicating in a respectful and honest manner can bring better outcomes for your child. I also advised that assessing your situation and that of your child is something you can do daily as a parent. At the end of the day the child is yours and when they grow and achieve, it is you as a parent to be proud. We do not look after our children because social workers say we should do it but we should be empowered to do it.
In my next article, I will try and explain what an assessment is as most parents think assessments are complicated and intrusive and have no idea what their benefits are. Yes, social workers come again and again and sometimes parents feel annoyed more than supported. But the question is, “How can parents understand what is going on and with what benefits and when it all ends?”
Let’s all develop a dialogue on how to engage social workers so that our children are safe in the home, school, and community.
Now that the storm has calmed, let me say it was necessary to expose the hidden nature of Female Genital Mutilation Type 4 within our Black Minority and Ethnic Community here in UK. We are all accustomed to Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting but as evidenced by backlash myself and others faced after BBC aired the documentary, communities think one form of abuse is more acceptable than the other and in this case, it would appear as if pulling is more acceptable than cutting . There is a general feeling in BME communities that cutting is FGM and pulling is not. Throughout my research, I insisted that pulling is Female Genital Mutilation Type 4 and is harmful to girls.
In 2014, I enrolled at Royal Holloway University to pursue MSc in Social Work. I am finally graduating in July 2017. Studying gave me quality time to renew my knowledge, reflect and rejuvenate myself. But like always I like to take risks.
But like always I like to take risks. After much debating within me and sometimes with others, I took the risk to choose a topic on Female Genital Mutilation Type 4. In my community, this is a taboo topic. When BBC aired it on like and when my community saw me testifying, daggers were drawn against me. Insults were hailed against me. I do not remember which part of my body was not insulted or ridiculed. But well, there is a price activist students pay. What I was simply trying to do by understanding this research was to get policy makers, parliamentarians, media, social workers and all professionals be aware of this hidden type of FGM as some children in the UK may be trapped. I went through it and so were 90% girls when we were growing up. I was concerned about safeguarding. Previously media focus had been on cutting but now pulling was brought under the microscope too. In any case, no harmful cultural practice should be permissible because it benefits men. Children are innocent and any touch on such delicate parts of their bodies which be considerate to physical and emotional damage in their lives.
Doing a research on Female Genital Mutilation Type 4 especially labia pulling was risky but necessary
Excerpt from my disseration
This study sought to explore social workers` attitudes, views and feelings towards FGM Type IV in as far as safeguarding and child protection issues are concerned. The approach took a deductive hypothesis that scholarly researchers, the media, policymakers and FGM campaigners have created FGM hierarchy by focussing more on FGM/ Cutting.
A sample of thirty-five social workers from forty Local Authority Children`s Services and six voluntary organisations working on FGM around UK were randomly selected to participate in this qualitative study. The questionnaire was used as the research instrument. However, this exploratory research study did not necessarily produce final and conclusive evidence.
The key themes that emerged from this study were social workers’ mixed views, thoughts, and feelings on FGM hierarchy, lack of harmonised training and information, loopholes in policy and legal frameworks and role of girls, communities, and families in combating FGM Type IV.
The results of the study clearly demonstrate that social workers have mixed views on FGM Type IV. The implications of the findings are significant for social work practice. Knowledge gaps and information disharmony on FGM Type IV in terms of prevalence, practising communities, statistics and consequences on children could jeopardise child protection and safeguarding assessments and interventions. Further to that, social workers are of the view that whereas FGM hierarchy impacts on practice, there is not much they can do since they are guided by legal and policy frameworks which this study revealed as lacking information on FGM Type IV and its hidden nature.
This study lays the foundation for future research targeting some FGM Type IV practising communities. Social workers recommended that legal and policy frameworks, training and dissemination of information be reviewed and harmonised. Future research was highly recommended with a larger sample on consequences on children, the prevalence in the UK, children who may be at risk and link between FGM Type IV and early sexual activity and consequently teenage pregnancies in practising communities in the UK.
Why Female Genital Mutilation Type 4 and is pulling harmful to children?
This study is coming at a time when Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) (Appendix 1) is a topical issue in the United Kingdom (UK). However, it would appear that there is an implicit denial that non-cutting forms of FGM are not as important. Like previous policy documents on FGM, the most recent policy guidelines for professionals by the Department of Health on “Risk and Safeguarding,” still fall short on FGM Type IV prevalence, practising communities and consequences of this harmful cultural practice on children (DOH, 2016). Despite the laws being in place, FGM is still underreported by many professionals even though they encounter such cases on a daily basis (Royal College of Midwives, 2013). It is estimated that 20 000 children are at risk of mostly FGM/Cutting also known as FGM Types I, II, III (FORWARD UK, 2007). There is no official estimate for FGM Type IV in the UK. There have been endless efforts by government and voluntary sector to eliminate FGM/Cutting as it violates children`s rights. Currently, the UK government is more focused on prosecuting anyone who performs FGM on children (Leye, et al., 2007).
In addition to deficits in policy guidelines on FGM Type IV, the study to explore social workersviews, thoughts and feelings on FGM Type IV was also influenced by personal experiences of the researcher who comes from one of the communities that practises FGM Type IV. Media reports of her experiences of FGM Type IV generated debate in practising communities’ majority who argued that FGM Type IV is not a form of FGM because of its supposedly many benefits to girls when they eventually get married (Metro, 2013). On the other hand, a national charity working to protect and safeguard black children in the UK, Africans United against Child Abuse (AFRUCA), recently released a report from a study that took place between July and December 2014. There were 110 participants from 12 FGM practising communities in Greater Manchester. AFRUCAs findings confirmed the hidden nature of FGM Type IV. The AFRUCA report of 2015 stated that some children who may be at risk of FGM Type IV were being overlooked in the child protection and safeguarding systems because FGM Type IV was not considered a type of mutilation. During this study, it was noted that participants from Zambia, Zimbabwe, Burundi, Ethiopia, Malawi, Uganda and Rwanda did not consider labia elongation as a form of FGM but part of their culture. They argued that there was no crime in a culture that ensured girls pull their labia because doing this rite of passage would then ensure their future husbands derive pleasure from sexual intercourse and stay in the marriage (AFRUCA, 2015).
Media publicity of the documentary film, “The Cruel Cut” had the huge impact on British Society on FGM/Cutting (Docson4, 2013). However, it reinforced the idea that FGM involves Cutting only. This must have contributed to FGM hierarchies of abuse also. Based on this background information, this study, therefore, sought to explore social workers’ views, attitudes and feelings towards FGM Type IV to gather information that would inform policy on safeguarding and child protection as children who live in practising communities may be at risk.
Legislators, media, scholars, professionals in the health sector have given more attention to FGM/Cutting (Leye et al, 2007). The extensive attention to FGM/Cutting seems to have undoubtedly created FGM hierarchy. FGM definition by WHO has been singled out as a major contributing factor to many perceiving FGM Type IV as less harmful (AFRUCA, 2015). To make matters worse, WHO has been reluctant to explicitly define or classify FGM Type IV like the case with Types I, II and III. FGM Type IV is lumped together under the umbrella term “others” and constitutes pricking, excision, pulling and stretching which are unrelated types of mutilation/modification (WHO, 2008). The lack of specific definition of FGM Type IV has led to a long-ranging debate on whether it is mutilation or modification. This has consequently justified myths and beliefs that FGM Type IV benefits girls when they eventually become married women. Therefore, this research was undertaken to explore views and attitudes of social workers towards FGM Type IV, hierarchies on such forms of abuse and consequently how this affects safeguarding and child protection by social workers.
The literature review provided evidence that scholars, policymakers, voluntary sector, and media have paid most attention to FGM /Cutting thereby creating FGM hierarchy. Lack of information on statistics and consequences of FGM Type IV on children from practising communities overlooks the risk children face. A significant number of children may be going through FGM Type IV without proper safeguarding and child protection policies and procedures in place. It is against this background that this research sought to explore attitudes, thoughts, and feelings of social workers on FGM Type IV in as far as safeguarding and child protection are concerned about seeking to answer the question, “What are social workers` perspectives on Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) Type IV within Black Minority Ethnic (BME) communities in the United Kingdom?”
Link to trauma, HIV and AIDS, early sexual activity and teen pregnancies
FGM has a serious psychological impact on children and evidence has shown how people get affected emotionally and physically (Roger, 2011). Girls begin to pull their labia from age 6. For instance, children who are forced to do labia elongation may feel anxiety because of stretching that may end up unsuccessful. As a result of this, girls may feel bullied, isolated, rejected and stereotyped as a result of a negative result. There is anxiety, fear, and desperation to be like others. There are no easy access clinics to support victims to build their resilience and deal with post traumatic disorder (Dustin and Davies, 2007).
One young Zambian woman shared how the pulling and stretching can take several months resulting in behavioural challenges for some girls (BUWA, 2012)). She highlights how girls who did not perform FGM Type IV were ostracised by their families and communities. She further states that in Zambia girls who did not stretch or pull their labia are constantly mocked and threatened that they will never get married. She argues that FGM Type IV is forced on girls and the practice is a way to police their bodies. In her case, she realised that her family made decisions for her much earlier in her life, some of which had serious consequences for early sexual activity and consequently teenage pregnancies (Katongo, 2014). However, most girls are forced to do it as a way to avoid backlash from family and society. The girls fear to be psychologically isolated and losing their identity. They have no choice but to conform to what is considered the norm (Toubia, 1994).
FGM Type IV, with specific reference to stretching, which is done to children under 12 years and before menstrual cycles is also performed with no anesthetic and has the same traumatic impact on children as with FGM Types I to III. The pain has been described as severe at the beginning but less severe as girls get used to it. However, the pain of whatever form causes distress on the body. There is the greater risk when children, for instance, from Western and Central Uganda pull using weights, threads and pegs given the fact that vaginal tissue is soft (WHO, 2008). Experts on sexual health have argued that women do not derive sexual pleasure due to their labia pulled out. In fact, reaching sexual climax has been refuted though Zambian women have argued otherwise (Fekit, 1996).
Health risks of FGM Type IV have not received the attention of scholars. However, a survey revealed a link between HIV and AIDS and FGM Type IV called Labia Minora Elongation due to damage to the female sexual organs as a result damage to the tissue (Martinez et al,2013). Herbs that are used during the procedure aid laceration, swelling, hypersensitivity to the genitalia, wound infection and HIV transmission. Research is still limited on how FGM Type IV causes girls to be sexually active and consequently get exposed to early sexual activities and pregnancy.
The above is not the full research. The academic paper will be produced in future and this is still work in progress. The researcher will be raising awareness on all forms of harmful cultural practices and not just one here in the UK and worldwide to safeguard.
Many are asking why and want to know why? Read below for many answers.
On 20 May 2017, Women4Africa awarded Muzvare Betty Makoni a Lifetime Achievement Award at their 6th Anniversary of the most prestigious award for African women world over. Lift Effects is also awarding Muzvare Betty Makoni with a Lifetime Achievement Award on 17 May 2017. Many are asking why Muzvare Betty Makoni? Ooh well, you are at the right place; on her personal website. The answer is detailed below. Be inspired on how she achieved for others especially girls who are women walking in the fullness of their potential.
Muzvare Betty Makoni aged 45 (BA General, BA Honours (University of Zimbabwe), MSc in Social Work (Royal Holloway University, UK) and a Zimbabwean native and founder of Girl Child Network Worldwide has achieved so much in her lifetime and she is worth talking. Her achievements were transmitted to her family, community, continent and the whole world and she has a unique way of uplifting everyone she meets and ensures they transform from victim into a victor. Her track record of achievement shows that she has achieved for others more than for herself. She has worked to uplift, empower, inspire and educate thousands of girls in Africa and around the world. Muzvare Betty Makoni`s career spans over 20 years as a gender activist and girl child rights champion, mentor, trainer, and consultant for gender.
Newsweek (2011) Muzvare Betty Makoni as one of the 100 women who shake the world along Secretary Hillary Clinton. She is Ambassador for many global movements fighting for children’s rights. To her honour are over 70 Global Awards including CNN Heroes, Global Children`s Rights Award alongside the Late President Nelson Mandela. Recently, she was honoured with the first ever Life Achievement Award by Women4Africa and Lift Effects. Muzvare Betty Makoni Life Achievements show how tenacity, resilience and upholding values and principles of honesty, hard work and passion can build a better world.
From age 9, she grew up with a desire to turn girls into empowered confident women walking in the fullness of their potential and she just achieved that. Her work spread across the world and it has been replicated, studied, used to teach in schools and inspired millions across to do similar work. Girls from her girls’ movement continue to achieve as leaders in various parts of the world. Muzvare Betty Makoni is a clear example of a leader who unselfishly shared her success. She worked and continues to work tirelessly to support poor rural and high-density suburbs of girls of Zimbabwe and across Africa through a global movement of grassroots networks she mentors, trains and nurtures to do empowerment and education work for marginalised girls. Daily she transforms girls from victims to empowered women walking in the fullness of their potential.
Despite the challenges, persecutions, trials, and tribulations, Muzvare Betty Makoni has not stopped her humanitarian work to rescue and protect the most vulnerable girls wherever she sees them suffering. She has become the spokesperson and advocate of the voiceless in many communities around the world. Girls around the world see Muzvare Betty Makoni as a role model and continue to write her story to empower and inspire millions of girls.
Muzvare Betty Makoni was officially conferred the Title Muzvare- Her Royal Highness the Princess to Muzvare Betty Makoni for saving girls lives by Makoni Tribal Chiefs and people of Rusape, Manicaland, Zimbabwe.
Recently she was officially installed as a Yeye Ashiwaju Omoba translated means Mother of and Leader of African Princesses by Princess Deun Adedoyin Solarin originally from Nigeria. Today she is a woman honoured and awarded globally. She is admired and adored by millions of women and girls whose lives she transforms.
Overcame childhood tragedies
At age 6, Muzvare Betty Makoni suffered sexual abuse. She spent her childhood as a vendor in the high-density suburb of Chitungwiza in Zimbabwe. At age 9 she lost her mother in domestic violence.
At age 11 she lost her brother who drowned and died. Through all ages, she saw her siblings suffer abuse, neglect, and marginalisation. She got determined to support them even though she was a child as well. Most of her time was spent at the market place selling vegetables, tomatoes to bring income home to support her siblings. Her worst life experience was to watch her stepmother physically abuse her siblings and there was no support in place to help them. Two of her siblings sustained life-threatening injuries that have affected them to date.
Muzvare Betty Makoni’s greatest achievement was to fight for all her siblings and encouraging them to attain education. Today through her support and their determination her four brothers and a sister achieved to degree level and are professionals around the world. Today the family is proud to serve vulnerable people in the health, education and science sectors.
Muzvare Betty Makoni became a school labourer at age 13 and worked for her school fees until completion of A’ Level. Her first achievement was to offer love and support to her siblings until they completed their studies too. Her siblings are all second-degree holders and holding leadership positions around the world. Muzvare Betty Makoni fought for her siblings as much as she fights for girls today.
Today, she shares a story of a child headed family that worked hard and achieved. Muzvare Betty Makonis experiences shaped her to be the advocate and champion for girls’ rights she is today. She grew up as one of the poorest and marginalised African girls in the early 1970s. It is this experience that shaped her to be the humanitarian she is today.
<p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Teacher turned passionate activist</strong></p>
Muzvare Betty Makonis career started at age 20 when she became a temporary primary school teacher. Upon her graduation from the University of Zimbabwe in 1994 she became a full time English Teacher at Zengeza 1 High School. She noticed girls were missing from school due to forced marriages, poverty and parents preferring sons to daughters. She mobilised girls into a club and grew the network from 10 to over 350 000 over a decade. The network empowered and educated girls about their rights. Between 1999 to 2009 Girl Child Girl Child Network in Zimbabwe was one of the first girls’ movements in Africa to empower thousands of women to be confident women leaders they are today. Most of the girls who graduated from the network are top leaders around the world. In the UK, Muzvare Betty Makoni has continued to speak to girls about empowerment and achieving their educational goals.
Innovator: Girls Empowerment model and first recipient of UN award
In 1998 she founded the Girl Child Network in her home country and gave her time fundraising 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.
Muzvare Betty Makoni is a strategic thinker who designed the Girl Child Empowerment now singled out as Best Practice and included in the University of Essex Journal for Human Rights (2010). In 1998 she formed girls’ clubs and imparted skills to over 350 000 girls over a decade in Zimbabwe and across Africa. Her model puts girls at the center of development and transforms them from victims into leaders. Girls clubs have become a model replicated around the world. In 2006 United Nations gave a first prize award to Girl Child Network for the innovative strategy for gender equality. Since then girls from most marginalised areas of Africa are challenging harmful cultural practices and ensuring parents, community and leaders treat girls fairly and equally.
Girl Child Network is a model replicated in six African countries with her volunteer time to train, nurture and support many leaders. She has also started a Girl Child Empowerment pilot project in some UK and USA girls` schools.
Sierra Leone, Swaziland, South Africa and Uganda have thriving networks from girls replicated from this model. Elsewhere in the world, many have set up girls’ empowerment clubs that operate independently with the model inspired by Muzvare Betty Makoni.
The girls who graduated from Girl Child Network graduated from various universities and have taken the leadership role of supporting empowerment and education of other girls in their local communities. The organisation is now a global movement being passed on from generation to generation.
Girls Empowerment Villages and protecting girls from sexual violenceMuzvare Betty Makoni reclaimed and revived a place used by women and girls from the Royal Family of Makoni for 400 years ago. She built a Girls Empowerment Village at the Princesses shrine to offer shelter to sexually abused girls. Four other girls’ empowerment villages were set up in Chihota, Hwange, and Chitungwiza in Zimbabwe. These are spaces for girls to heal from trauma and get counseling and support with reinstatement back into school. Over 35 000 girls who suffered rape, forced marriages and other forms of sexual violence by family members and strangers have sought support from the Girls Empowerment Village since 1999.
Fundraised millions to save lives of vulnerable girls
Muzvare Betty Makoni set up the first girls office in Chitungwiza with a typewriter and no office space in 1999. Through her relentless efforts to bring funding to girls, she fundraised over US$3 million over the decade which supported over 5000 girls to complete their education, build four Girls Empowerment Villages and pay 68 members of staff. She worked in partnership with Global Fund for Women, Stephen Lewis Foundation, Firelight Foundation, Bernard Van Leer, International Development Exchange and many others. Her fundraising saved lives of girls in Zimbabwe and across Africa. A partnership project with New Seasons in the USA had six girls funded through full scholarships and they have ventured into top careers as auditors, accountants, and research scientists.
Leadership development support for grassroots leaders
The story of Evangelist Elizabeth Kalonga is but good one of the most inspiring life achievements of Muzvare Betty Makoni’s leadership development targeting grassroots women who have no access to financial and human resources but have the passion and commitment to using their life stories and experiences to change their communities through projects with practical solutions.
Muzvare Betty Makoni got to know Evangelist Kalonga at a time when she was in despair and needed someone to talk to. Muzvare Betty Makoni had a therapy session with Evangelist Kalonga at her house. It is during this session that Evangelist Kalonga disclosed the pain and trauma she carried all her life as a victim of childhood sexual abuse by close relatives. Muzvare Betty Makoni listened to her story and devised a support plan that would see her continuing her work on raising HIV and AIDS in churches and dealing with stigma. She was also supported to write her book called “Virtuous Victory” which she recently launched in Luton, UK.
Many grassroots leaders in Africa, UK and worldwide see Muzvare Betty Makoni as a mentor. She has supported many women to write their stories and inspires others to change their lives. To date, about five women she supported to build their organisations have thrived because of her encouragement, mentorship, and free advice.
Muzvare Betty Makoni has assisted over 20 women leaders in Zimbabwe, UK and worldwide to set up charities and helped with free training and mentorship at early stages of formation of organisations as many women cannot afford the costs for organisational development costs from seasoned consultants. Many of the grassroots women leaders she has supported have gone to launch life-saving projects in the UK and across Africa.
Even though many associate Muzvare Betty Makoni with the 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 the grassroots level. She also dedicated her time to supporting the work of Restored UK as a Founding Trustee to ensure there is a strong global alliance to stop violence against women in churches.
Inspired millions through speaking
Muzvare Betty Makoni is a prolific speaker who has spoken at global, national and local be it at United Nations, churches, campaigns, workshops, conferences, book launches, rural schools in Africa or wherever people feel inspired by her speeches. Many around the world have come to attend some of her speaking events. To date, she has spoken at over one thousand platforms.
Featured in award-winning documentaries and books
Muzvare Betty Makoni has been featured as the main subject by the US Hollywood Director Michealene Risley award winning documentary called Tapestries of Hope shown on USA`s major channels like HBO.
Muzvare Betty Makoni has been featured by Toronto`s Law students in the documentary The Girl Child. Tantra Zawadi, a US-based filmmaker, and renowned poet also featured Muzvare Betty Makoni in her documentary, HIV, and AIDS.
Muzvare Betty Makonis work has been featured in renowned photojournalist Paula Gianturcos book called, “Women who light the dark.” Many magazines like World Children`s Prize and many others also featured her works of passion. Muzvare Betty Makoni is featured in best-selling books including On the Up by Nikki and Rob Wilson, as well as the main subject in the award-winning documentary, Tapestries of Hope, by U.S. Hollywood Director Michealene Risley.
The most recent documentary film on BBC in UK on Female Genital Mutilation Type 4 got the whole world talking about harmful cultural practices perpetrated against girls.
Strategic thinker and planner for global causes
Muzvare Betty Makoni`s life was spent advocating to shape policies and strategies of other big organisations like Oxfam Novib, UNAIDS and just recently she was dedicated to supporting the work of Restored UK as a Trustee to ensure there is a strong global alliance to stop violence against women in churches. She was recently appointed as Advisor to Board of International Peace Group based in South Korea.
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 the 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 passionate about working with children and families and I give my volunteer time to such causes. To support causes related to child protection and learn from them in UK and Worldwide she is a am a member and in leadership roles for the following respectable organisations; Member of The British Association of Social Workers, Registered Human Rights Defender with Frontline Advisor, International Women Peace Group Women World Summit, Voluntary Ambassador for Preventing Child Abuse, Ashoka Fellow-Social Investment in people.
UK gender expert and Campaigned against rape as a weapon of war
Based on her good work on rape as a weapon of war, in 2012, Muzvare Betty Makoni was one of the first to be selected to the team of experts for Preventing Sexual Violence Initiative (PSVI) was officially launched on 30 January 2013 by the UK Foreign Office. As a Gender Based Violence expert, she had the honour of campaigning and advocating leaders of G8 and diplomatic missions based in London on the need to support initiatives to prevent rape as a weapon of war. She is apparently developing her career as a gender-based violence expert.
Muzvare Betty Makoni was the first activist in Zimbabwe to document stories of women affected by rape as a weapon of war in 2008 whilst in self-imposed exile in Botswana. The dossier of evidence she compiled with support from Stephen Lewis Foundation and International Human Rights Lawyers remains the first ever document to put the case for women’s rights for Zimbabwe.It is hoped that some Zimbabwean women, especially from poor rural areas of Zimbabwe who got raped during political violence of 2008, will be able to get justice based on this dossier of evidence.
Honoured with over 70 global awards
To her name are 70 global awards from the most Prestigious organisations in the world making her the most awarded African women worldwide and with the Decade Global Child Rights hero she became one of the honorary winners alongside the late President Nelson Mandela. CNN, Dalai Lama, World Childrens Prize and My Heros Project awarded Muzvare Betty Makoni as a hero.
Zimbabwe Institute of Management awarded their first national contribution to Muzvare Betty Makoni. United Nations Red Ribbon award honoured Muzvare Betty Makoni and Girl Child Network as having the most innovative strategy for gender equality. National Black Prosecutors Association in the UK also honoured her with the prestigious Profile In Courage Award for outstanding work on work to stop Female Genital Mutilation and other harmful cultural practices.
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 her as one of the 150 women who shake the world, alongside US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. In the UK, Power Women named her Motivational speaker of the year. Muzvare Betty Makoni was selected an Ashoka Fellow and belongs to Global Network of social innovators who have changed lives in their communities and beyond.
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 UNIFEM Goodwill Ambassador Nicole Kidman. Recently in the 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 the UK.
For all her hard and passionate work, she has been featured on major television and radio 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.
Muzvare Betty Makoni`s inspirational books and making global news
Muzvare Betty Makoni is a published author of a poetry book, “A woman, once a Girl: Breaking Silence,” which was recently launched in London.
Muzvare Betty Makoni’s official Autobiography Never Again, not on any woman or girlhttp://bettymakoni.authorsxpress.com/ is inspiring women around the globe. She has gone to inspire and speak to many women around the globe on the need to strengthen their work and build sustainable income at the grassroots level to support whatever innovative strategies that alleviate poverty and violence.
Her latest poetry book entitled, The Inspiring and Empowering World of Muzvare Betty Makoni celebrates many women who inspire her and creates a 21st-century rhythm for the women`s movement.
Girls Empowerment and Education Fund in the UK
After migrating to the UK, Muzvare Betty Makoni founded the Girl Child Network Worldwide in 2009 which is registered as an international development organisation in the UK and supporting girls in Africa. Girl Child Network Worldwide is at the center 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 and offer small grants for education and empowerment programmes for girls in Africa so that they reach their potential.
Muzvare Betty Makoni continues to serve lives of 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 the UK has continued.
Muzvare Betty Makoni continues to serve lives of 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 the UK has continued.
She has successfully built global support for Girls Empowerment and Education Fund with Princess Adedoyin-Solarin and Princess Toyin Audrey Onagoruwa and together they are building support to keep girls in school.
Muzvare Betty Makoni’s efforts are now focused on creating the Girls Empowerment and Education Fund to be managed by Girl Child Network Worldwide (www.girlchildnetworkworldwide.org) ensuring marginalised girls in Africa get support for their projects without bureaucracy and delays. The fund has disbursed small grants totaling £250 000 since 2009.
Professional development and work for children in the UK and worldwide
Muzvare Betty Makoni recently completed her Master of Science in Social Work Degree. In the UK, she is a registered professional working with children. She works and dedicates her time to ensuring children she works with are supported in the school, home, and community. On 7 October 2017, Muzvare launches Girls Empowerment Initiative to respond to complex challenges girls face with Female Genital Mutilation, Child Sexual Exploitation and other forms of gender-based violence.
Muzvare Betty Makoni continues to serve children in Africa through fundraising, training and volunteer time to build more networks. Muzvare Betty Makoni graduates from Royal Holloway University in July 2017. One of her greatest achievements so far is her Research Project on Female Genital Mutilation Type 4 which provides new knowledge on the least known harmful cultural practices affecting African girls in the UK. The Research got a distinction.
Mother, wife, aunt, private fostering and thriving family
Muzvare Betty Makoni fell in love with her soulmate Engineer Irvine Nyamapfene on 14 February 1993. Since then the couple has established a peaceful home and helped many orphaned children who found themselves with parents or home especially in Zimbabwe. Many people in their family circles take the couple to be a good example of what family, love and support are all about.
Muzvare Betty Makoni is a mother of three boys, Tinopiwanashe, Mukudzeishe, and Spencer. She is also a foster parent to her niece Betty Makoni Junior.
Muzvare Betty Makoni Is A Girl Child Rights Activist, UK Gender Based Violence Expert,CNN Hero, Speaker, Published Author & Poet, Theatre Director, Educationist, Philanthropist, Ashoka Fellow, Human Rights Defender, Mentor, Trainer, Coach, One of 150 Women Who Shake The World, Social Critic, Critical Thinker, Mother &Wife