Global support for Girl Child Network transforms thousands of lives of girls in Zimbabwe

Girls empowered by GCN are BIG WOMEN(Poem by Betty Makoni)

From torn paper to laptop to email to technology to communication

From silent victims of harmful cultural practices to international advocates for girls rights

From speechless girls ,to mouthful girls

From the smoky huts to five star hotels

From the dark potholed dusty roads of remote rural areas to lightful streets of Oxford,New York,Harare

From invisible past to visible present and future

From tearful songs to songs of empowerment

From verseless  poerty to voiceful poetry

Girls are walking in the fullness of their potential

(From Betty Makoni`s unpublished poetry book)

On Sartuday 21 March 2009 ,Girl Child Network ( turned ten .There is a girl who emailed me as below and I felt she summed it up well so well

(Please note I removed her name from the original email but the rest of the email is in its original form and content  )

Hello Betty

I was at Tsindi Secondary School in Rusape, Manicaland in 2006. I just want to say a big thank you to you and the Girl Child Network Trust Zimbabwe. You helped me a lot not financially but with the sweeet and advising words you said when you came to our School. Now I have grown knowing my rights, knowing I have to speak up and always view the sky as the limit.

Me being brought up in our small village and we did not have enough opportunities to do what other girls where doing, I used to look at myself like I am nothing and whenever we had sports and gatherings, I used to feel like I do not exist. Thanks to you I finally saw the potential which was inside myself, right now as I write to you I am studying Nursing and Paramedic and I will be going to university in September which is amazing. I will be going to Oxford university by the way and I give all the thanks to you because you made me realise I can do anything.I hope the GCNT is still going on nomatter what happened or what happens back home.

Thank you very much and god bless!!!

I hope Mai Mvududu is still chearful as she used to be.

Love you and take care..

Personally I never imagined a situation where a rural girl would one day email from Oxford to say I finally made it.I was used to seeing girls with dirty ,torn uniforms,shoeless and rough feet and rough hands. My picture of girls in tears ,overworked,married off ,domesticated and raped made me worry a lot .Each time I looked at them I saw great potential erased by  abject poverty.Now when I open my email box ten years  down the line ,I get messages that make me feel the world must relook empowerment programs for girls and replicate wherever,whenever ,however  they can the Girl Child Empowerment Model by Girl Child Network. I told girls in Canada many times that each time I fly to their country it is the voice of a male pilot that I hear and then I see many air hostesses serving food. Not that it is a bad thing to be an airhostess  but we need the number of those pilots and air hostesses balanced in terms of gender .So we must not tire in our efforts in supporting girls so that we close on the gender inequality gap created by patriachy in the world and according to me it does not matter whether one is in the north or south.It looks gender inequality and women empowerment needs to be addressed at a much earlier stage .Girls will be women but women will never be girls again and so we start now !!!!!!!!!!!!!

In  Chitungwiza a high density suburb of over one million people ,girls  celebrated their 10th anniversary and Stembile Mabhena ,former  National Girls Executive Secretary General and current representative of girls on the board gave  a key note address and spelt out the next vision for Girl Child Network from 2009 to 2019. Girls will marched from our offices in Zengeza 4 to Makoni Shopping centre.

Throughout the years to come  many events will  be in place formally and informally where Girl Child Network will share the Girl Child Network Model within and outside Zimbabwe

The whole world has supported GCN morally and financially

Girl Child Network would like to thank the following donors and friends who supported morally and financially


Mrs Mudzongo was the first parent at Zengeza 1 High to donate to Girl Child Network in 1998-she died tragically after a party with girls at Betty Makoni`s house

Irvine Nyamapfene ,a father of three boys and Betty Makoni`s  long term partner and husband used his office facilities and personnel to do all GCN documents .We had a typewriter  that typed all leters excpet letter e .We took the first rent for our first office from Irvine Nyamapfene and his car did the first rescue missions

Mr Matsvai and Symacon greatly inspired GCN empowerment model at community level and he he helped with setting up systems

In Zimbabwe Barbra formed the Women As Role Model Program that has helped us raise schools fees for girls.Violet Kaitano has been the best woman role model

Unity Chari has been pivotal in coaching Betty Makoni

Rotary Club of Zimbabwe and the Golf Club have supported GCN financially and they bring food aid to GCN many times

Chief Makoni,Nenguwo and Hwange donated pieces of land where the Girls Empowerment Villages are built right now

US Embassy gave us first grant for our trafficking program in 2005

British Embassy supported our advocacy work on child sexual abuse for one year

CIDA has been one of the biggest GCN funders at local level

Save the Children UK has worked closely with GCN in its humanitarian efforts

Netherlands Embassy gave to GCN orphan support program and this had the biggest impact in communities

Zimbabwe lawyers for human rights have come in handy to provide legal aid to GCN Director and staff during times of incarceration

European Commssion has partnered with GCN in a human rights projects for girls which scored a first in eliminating harmful cultural practices

Unicef Zimbabwe partnered with GCN for two years and GCN is a member of the working group on education and a member of UNIFEM Gender forum

United States of America

Global fund for women gave the first grant of 10 000 US dollars and thanks to Jennifer Astone who was by then the program officer and Kavita the President of Global Fund for Women

Rebecca Zeigler Mano is sincerely thanked for her role as GCN board member and for supporting us to link up with donors in the Bay Area in California

Most of our donors came from California in the Bay Area and they include Firelight Foundation,International Development Exchange (IDEX) New Field FoundatioN

American Jewish World Service in New York has supported our girls at risk support Unit.We are a model of how we can work in partnership with funders like AJWS who helped put GCN second empowerment Village

Firelight Foundation funded the construction of the first Girls Empowerment Village at Chitsotso and it is such an amazing place for girls .

IDEX supported Hwange Mwemba Girls Empowerment Village and everyone must go see this marvel and proceed to might Victoria Falls for debriefing

GCN work was professionally documented by Paoula Girtunarco in a book Women who light the dark and we feature on the first chapter .Paoula has donated generously to GCN as an individual

We also thrived because of support from Leanne Comacast who has raised over 10 000 US dollars as an individual for GCN

Right now Leanne is in the midst of organising a thank you gathering for all Bay Area GCN supporters for April 2009

Michelene Risley has managed to take a step further and now she is in final stages of her film on GCN work

She has raised some funds for GCN girls education and she likes giving girls some panties and she was doing that when she got arrested in Zimbabwe

Girls Child Network is a member of GROOTS International and it set up up GROOTS Zimbabwe

Silicon valley community has provided GCN general support grant especially in 2008 when the situation in Zimbabwe was dire

Barbara of California donated 25 000 grant to GCN

AIDS FREE WORLD and GCN have ensured rape survivors are supported and protected  and GCN values this partnership


This is the greatest award Betty Makoni and  GCN have ever received .Ashoka supports social  entreupreneuers like Betty Makoni with a stipend and networking opportunities as well as legal aid when an Ashoka fellow is being theatened in their countries .Without Ashoka ,Betty Makoni could  not have lived to this day


Oxfam Novib boosted our financial fortune by giving to institutional capacity building and supporting Empowerment of girls in the school ,home and community .For the past seven years GCN has thrived because of Oxfam Novib holistic funding

Stephen Lewis Foundation has been a passionate funding partner and GCN enjoys their funding

Bernard Van Leer recently partnered in GCN in an exciting innovative empowerment program targeting girls 8 years and below

Oxfam Novib is a long term funding partner of GCN and Betty Makoni is a respected member of the Round table and only woman to be selected for such a high position

Jennifer Aston from Global Fund for Women was the first one to see potential of GCN in 2009

Denise Parmentier was the first program officer of any European country to understand GCN and be able to communicate the prgrams of the organisation to the wider world.She was the first too to link GCN to international networks


Stephen Lewis Foundation remains GCN`s model of a  funding partner as the Foundation funds from the heart and respects partners views .GCN partnership with the Stephen Lewis Foundation is the best thing that ever happened to GCN

Thousands of girls have been assisted to attain education and rescued from abusive situations.Todate the organisation has paid ten staff members ,donated three new vehicles and supported construction work of Mhondoro Grinding Mill projects

Bill Sparks and Trish in Canada is a couple that has played  a PR and ambassodarial role for GCN at no cost at all .Many ordinary citizens  of Canada who now support GCN came from Bill and Trish and in Canada GCN is a household name

Defence for Children International Canada has hosted Betty Makoni and provided her with accomodation  and also transport each time she comes to Canada and thanks to Les and Agnes Samler and Agnes Samler and her board of GCI

Canadian Crossroads International has helped us replicate the model in Sawziland

Rotary International Club of Canada and Artists International  has recntly partnered with GCN and they now are formally the donors of GCN

University of Toronto students Tara and Jared worked on GCN film the girl child and for a small donation to GCN of your choice one can get a copy.This is a must to see!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

South Africa

Osisa recently partnered with GCN for girls to seek recourse with the courts after rape

Lesley Forster of Masinyamane  ,Zubeda and many others helped GCN to learn from their organisations and such skills have lived up to date

Pink travel fundraised for GCN PRINCESS VILLAGE

For the first time the Ministry of education in South Africa featured an exam question based on GCN work in South Africa national exams after they took it from world children`s prize for the rights of the child


GCN partners with SWAGGA and this is the best way people country to country can share what works for girls


Frontline human rights defenders has given grants for security and this enabled GCN to move on


Urgent Action Fund has helped GCN with security and protection of girls and staff .GCN values this partnership and thanks Urgent Action for moving swiftly whenever we knock on the door


Medica Mondiale supported GCN during a time when girls lives were threatened

United Kingodm

Egmont Trust donated to GCN Mutasa project and saved hundreds of orpahned girls at risk

Akina Mama wa Africa helped with training for two GCN staff in leadership

Forward UK inspired GCN to share the model in other countries

GCN founder hopes to make new partners in the UK and continue to network GCN within the country

SOAWAR is a network for women working on women`s rights and SOAWAR funded GCN to roll out the AU protocol on women`s rights where the AU protocol for women and girls is like a bible for women and girls


Is a country where GCN staff go to debrief

It is a country where any peace loving must be and GCN uses Botswan as a place to heal and gain energy and so all staff retreats are conducted across the border

Betty Makoni is an official resiednt of Botswana

Most purchases done by GCN are done in Botswana

A total of 28 big and small funding partners supported GCN in the last 10 years,10 were trainers,8 documenters ,15 are local networks and 203 are individual women as role models or big individual donors.


Many newspapers in Zimbabwe have covered GCN and thanks to all newspapers in and outside Zimbabwe who keep sending news to inform all our stakeholders on GCN

Girls stories ,problems and empowerment needs to be understood and so GCN needs to see how best to get the story out there

Loise  of WURN has helped us take  the word out there  through a news network

Our own fundraising

GCN realises that empowerment does not mean girls only and so has taken a step further coming up with  self help projects

The organisation has four grinding mills in rural areas 3 of which are working and from these GCN has funds coming from our communities

GCN believes that if we own such fundraising projects we can sustain our own programs on a long term basis

Our straucture

GCN has changed structure since 2007 and is testing and trying a new leadership and assigning roles

GCN hopes many girls who for ten years have been in leadership positions can be supported with training and further education so that they take up the leadership of the organisation with assistence from experienced long serving staff members

GCN has a board of 9 .5 are adults and 4 are girls

There is a National Girls Executive Committee that is elected every year and this is the highest decision making body with girls only.They advise the board on what they want to see done for girls in Zimbabwe .The national President of GCN sits on the board and also has a permanent office at GCN headquarters

Founder member and Chair of secretariat helps GCN fundraise,strategic planning,Monitoring and evaluation and giving all advice needed by staff and board .She is the link between staff,girls and the board .She works closely with Monitoring and Evaluation and Communications team.They ensure GCN work is consistently documented,shared,replicated and supported in and outside Zimbabwe and she plays an ambassodarial role for GCN

There is an Executive Director and assisted by officers in Programs,finance ,administration and Internal auditing and Girls Empowermenet Villages who see the day to day running of GCN and ensure funds donated are used for the intended purposes.They ensure programs to suit girls needs are in place and are implemented.GCN recently introduced codirectorship and supports collective leadership .However a new Excutive Director will soon be announced to head the directorate

GCN has 28 officers who are part of either admin,finance and girls empowerment programs or girls empowerment Villages

There are 18 program assistants

All three branches are manned by between 3 to 11 staff members and there are 3 branches

Staff are given one year contracts depending on availability of funding

The longest staff member has been with the organisation for ten years

GCN has built the capacity of staff to deliver programs for girls and staff capacity building continue within the organisatio

GCN is proud to say that there are some very gender sensitive male staff members who have helped the organisation reach to such great heights

In total 68 staff members staff members for programs and support staff who are on the ground

GCN supports staff in many ways like reasonable remuneration,office equipment ,leave days and there is a staff trust fund that helps staff needing medical treatment and there is an HIV and AIDS policy at the workplace with resources set aside

Time and again GCN realises out work is very stressful and although with limited funding we have recieved funds for debriefing and during the times when food was scarce every effort was made to help staff access food

Girls who benefitted to date

Please note the figures are not yet official

Since formation in 1998 300 000 girls in Zimbabwe have been our membership

Currently GCN has 41 000 girls officially registered as members of GCN .However it is estimated that 19 000 girls may not be registered officially but they say they are GCN members

35 000 girls have reported rape at our girls empowerment villages and half of these were satisfied with our interventions

GCN has rescued over 200 girls trafficked

GCN has directly helped over 9000 girls  in healing from rape in Girls empowerment Villages since inception-the youngest was a day old baby and thr youngest girl to be rescued from marriage was a ten year old girl who completed her secondary school in 2008

The youngest girl to look after a family and raped by father was 8 years old

3000 orphaned girls have been reinstated back in schools and their school fees paid

104 girls were helped out of focrced marriages in apostolic churches and reinstated in boarding schools

50 girls in Uninvesity were helped with education assistence and only half completed their schools

GCN escort team helped 8000 girls at the courts and three quarters of cases got custodial sentences

GCN rescued 6000 girls from abusive homes under Girls At Risk suppor Unit

Daily at least 10 girls report rape in Zimbabwe and half the number is infected by HIV and AIDS

200 girls daily report emergencies like rape,starvation.beatings ,forced marriages and prearranged church marriages

The oldest perpetrator of rape is 87 years in Nyanaga in Manicaland

The girl forced to marry to the oldest man in Buhera was 11 and the man aged 75

20 girls received leadership training as staff members under the mentoship program-only 6 got employed to date

GCN lost an average 25 members a year due to illness and death

2000 teachers have so far been trained in empowerment of girls in schools by GCN

60% of rural girls have not been in school since 2007

80% of girls in rural areas have no panties ,sanitary ware and so for menstruation they use sticks as tampoons

80% of our members are in rural areas,10% high density surbubs and the other 10% are girls on mines farms and low density surbubs

GCN offshoots

The organisation has taken a step further by founding organisations like Groots Zimbabwe ,Ray of Hope for Domestic violence survivors .Many women who wanted to join Girl Child Network have joined these organisations.Betty Makoni has helped orphan centred organisations like Maunganidze kind hearted  and New Hope Zimbabwe to build  capacity and get funding. Many community based organisations benefitting thousands of women and children have thrived because of GCN support.GCN does not compete ,it complements !!!!!!!


Wisdom in Action will in April 2009 honors Betty Makoni with Unsung Hero award in California, USA .As if this is not enough, World Children`s Prize in Sweden has announced through a press   statement  that Betty Makoni along Nelson Mandela and Graca  Machel  and  twelve  other child rights activists  are all nominated for the decade`s heroes award where 22 million children round the world through a vote will decide who their decade`s hero is.The Global Vote process is from April to October 2009 . Ashoka recently congratulated Betty Makoni for being chosen as one of the Global Young leaders forum and this is great honour.If no other award is announced between now and 21 March when GCN turns ten then in 10 years GCN is a proud holder of 15 awards for excellence,innovation and good leadership

Below are some of the awards

  • Newsweek Announced Betty Makoni is among 150 women who shake the world
  • Nominee African Achievers Award-UK   May 2011
  • Honorary Award  from Duke University of Medicine(Top Ten US College)-2011
  • Decade Child Rights Hero by the World Children’s Prize alongside Graca Machel and Nelson Mandela  -Sweden -2010
  • Interaction(Network of USA Non Profits) Humanitarian Award 2010
  • The Women In Film and Television Awards-Los Angeles –USA
  • CNN Heroes award for Protecting the Powerless-2009
  • Giraffe Heroes Project Award 2009
  • Unsung Heroes of Compassion Award -2009
  • Amnesty International Ginetta Sagan Award for women and children’s rights, USA May 2008
  • Elected Ashoka fellow- -Global leading Social Entrepreneurs in recognition of creative and entrepreneurial leadership and commitment to make large scale changes in Society
  • Drivers of Change Award –Southern Africa Trust 2007
  • Women Empowerment Award 2007
  • Runner Up-Director of the Year Award for NGO sector in Zimbabwe-2008
  • Finalist One World Person of the Year 2007
  • One of the Ten Outstanding young people in the World by Junior Chamber International a worldwide leadership organization for young leaders and professionals
  • Voted First out of  Ten  Outstanding Young in Zimbabwe 2007 the Junior Chamber Zimbabwe
  • Awarded by the World Children’s Prize for the Rights of the Child the Global Friends Award -2007
  • World Children’s Prize an equivalent to Nobel Prize for Children in 2007 in a Global Vote by 5,2 million children in 85 countries
  • Awarded the Zimbabwe Institute of Management National Contribution Award in 2007 immense contribution to the nation
  • The United Nations Red Ribbon Award -2006 for addressing gender inequalities that fuel the HIV/AIDS epidemic
  • Hafkin Prize Award Finalist, 2003
  • Awarded for Creativity in Rural Life by the Women’s World Summit Foundation, Switzerland 2003.
  • Prize Betty Makoni for Prevention of Child Abuse now renamed Prize for Prevention of Child Abuse is celebrated on 19 November annually
  • Small Technical Grant Award for the most innovative Grassroots Community Based Strategy
  • Certificate of Honor by Global Philanthropy Forum for being the most Remarkable person, USA  2002

GCN a very healthy organisation

GCN has its own Girls Empowerment villages and a total of three today. We own a Girls Centre and a huge piece of land .We have four grinding mills .Our fleet of cars is 21 and each centre has a new vehicle .Every staff member has a laptop of desk top computer and in the area where we are located we may be the only with such technology

We have a new communications centre with full time staff and it will be the place where everyone who wants something will go

Being this healthy at ten GCN is already a grown up woman and it is an amazing story of determination,hard ,work and passion

But mostly our story was made possible by many supporters round the globe

Thank you all on behalf of girls in Zimbabwe and tomorrow is a big day for us all