University of Calgary

Girl Child Network

October 22, 2009

Network empowers Zimbabwe girls


Betty Makoni helps young victims of abuse in Zimbabwe through the Girl Child Network.
At the age of six, Betty Makoni was raped and forbidden to disclose the abuse. At nine, her mother was murdered by her father in her home in Zimbabwe. Makoni vowed to speak out and to change the attitudes that allowed such violence to happen with impunity.

Now a children’s rights activist, Makoni has dedicated her life to empowering young women in Zimbabwe through the Girl Child Network. On Friday, she will speak on campus on “Girl Child Empowerment as a Model for Transformation.” This special lecture coincides with Women’s History Month and follows the Women’s Resource Centre’s annual awards ceremony where Carol Oliver, MSC’95, will be honored as this year’s distinguished alumna and Master of Fine Arts student Adina Edwards will receive the student award.

Makoni’s organization supports a large network of school-based clubs to empower girls and provide counseling and rehabilitation to victims of abuse. Across Zimbabwe, the Girl Child Network has helped thousands of girls. Makoni, a former school teacher, has seen firsthand how gender-based violence and cultural practices that fuel the spread of HIV and AIDS can compromise a girl’s ability to stay in school and reach her full potential.

Makoni is a recipient of the Dalai Lama’s Unsung Heroes of Compassion Award 2009 and was recently nominated as one of CNN’s Top 10 Heroes of 2009. She speaks in the Escalus Room in the MacEwan Student Centre on Friday, Oct. 23 from 2:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. Her visit is sponsored by the RESULT:ED Education Fund, the U of C’s Centre for Service-Learning and Community Engagement and the Women’s Resource Centre.

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