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 about and receiving the prestigious Women4Africa Lifetime Achievement Award. She has achieved for others more than for herself. She has worked to uplift, empower, inspire and educate thousands of girls in Africa and round the 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 did not succeed alone but with her are girls from poor rural and high density suburbs of Zimbabwe whose lives were transformed from victims to empowered women walking in the fullness of their potential. Muzvare Betty Makoni`s career spans over 20 years as a gender activist and girl child rights champion.
Despite the challenges, persecutions, trials and tribulations, Muzvare Betty Makoni has not stopped her humanitarian work to rescue and protect the most vulnerable children wherever she sees them suffering. She has become the spokesperson and advocate of the voiceless in many communities round the world. Girls round the world see Muzvare Betty Makoni as a role model and continue to write her story to empower and inspire millions of girls round the world. 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.
Overcame childhood tragedies
At age 6, Muzvare Betty Makoni suffered rape. She spent her childhood as child 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 fought for all of them and today through her support and their determination her four brothers and a sister achieved to degree level and are professionals round the world. Muzvare Betty Makoni became a school labourer at age 13 and worked for her school until completion of A Level. Her first achievement was to offer love and support to her siblings until they completed their studies too. Today, she shares a story of a child headed family that worked hard and achieved. Muzvare Betty Makoni`s 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.
Teacher turned passionate activist
Muzvare Betty Makoni`s career started at age 20 when she became a temporary primary school teacher. Upon her graduation 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 round the world.
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 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.
Muzvare Betty Makoni is a strategic thinker who designed the Girl Child Empowerment now singled out as Best Practice and included in University of Essex Journal for Human Rights (2010). In 1998 she formed girls’ clubs and imparted skills to thousands of girls. Her model puts girls at the centre of development and transforms them from victims into leaders. Girls clubs have become a model replicated round the world. In 2006 United Nations gave a first prize award to Girl Child Network for 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.
Girls Empowerment villages and protecting girls from sexual violence
Muzvare Betty Makoni reclaimed and revived a place used by women and girls from the Royal Family of Makoni since 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 counselling 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 type writer 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. Partnership project with New Seasons in 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
Many grassroots leaders in Africa and worldwide see Muzvare Betty Makoni as a mentor. She has assisted over 20 women leaders in Zimbabwe and worldwide to, set up charities and helped with training and mentoring.
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. 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 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 round 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. She has been featured by Toronto`s Law students in the documentary The Girl Child. Tantra Zawadi, a US based film maker and renowned poet also featured Muzvare Betty Makoni in her documentary, HIV and AIDS. Muzvare Betty Makoni`s work has been featured in renowned photo journalist Paula Gianturco `s 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 main subject in the award winning documentary, Tapestries of Hope, by U.S. Hollywood Director Michealene Risley.
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 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.
UK gender expert and Campaigned against 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 to 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.
Honoured with over 60 global awards
To her name are 60 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. 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. 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 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 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 UK.
For all her hard and passionate work, she has been featured by 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. Her Autobiography Never Again, not on any woman or girl http://bettymakoni.authorsxpress.com/ is inspiring women round the globe. She 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.
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.
Girls Empowerment and Education Fund in UK
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 UK has continued. Her 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 totalling £250 000 since 2009.
Professional development and work for children in UK and worldwide
Muzvare Betty Makoni recently completed her Master in Science in Social Work Degree. In UK she is a registered professional working with children and working with a progressive Trust to ensure children are safe. She is on her way to achieving as a Child and Family Practitioner. She dedicates her time to ensuring children she works with are supported in school, home and community. She 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 UK. The Research got a distinction.
Mother, wife, aunt, private fostering and thriving family
Muzvare Betty Makoni is a mother of three boys and her niece Betty Makoni Junior. She is married to Engineer Irvine Nyamapfene and both of them have privately fostered over 16 disadvantaged who are successful in their careers today.