The Girl Child Network

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The Girl Child Network

Project Stage:
$1,000 - $10,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

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Betty Makoni is building a new generation of strong, active women citizens. In Zimbabwean society, girls are discriminated against, often abused, and given limited opportunities for expression and development. Through her Girl Child Network, Betty creates safe spaces for girls to grow and connect with each other. Betty uses advocacy campaigns, media projects, and works with community leaders to raise awareness and change attitudes at community and national levels.

About Project

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In mainstream Zimbabwean society, there are few areas—either public or private—in which girls can express themselves on equal footing with their male counterparts. Limited by their own lack of self assurance and by low societal expectations, they are often left to pursue only standard domestic female roles or at the utmost to seek teaching positions. The Girl Child Network (GCN) works to build girls' confidence by providing safe spaces for self expression, and dismantling culturally held gender stereotypes through a variety of public outreach campaigns. Initially established to provide support for girls experiencing violence and sexual abuse, the clubs within GCN have taken on the mandate of empowering a new generation of young women. From these initial school-based support groups stem additional support programs, including trauma counseling and legal assistance for victims of abuse, as well as improved access to information and networking. Recognizing that a society-wide reduction in gender-based discrimination is likewise needed to improve women's status, Betty develops advocacy campaigns and media projects, and works with community leaders to change widely held cultural beliefs. Graduates of the program offer critical support through an active alumni network, serving as valuable spokespersons for the program and its philosophy in their new homes and workplaces. The GCN approaches are consciously designed to shift girls' roles in the home, school, and community, thereby ensuring systemic change over the long term. Beginning in a single school, the GCN now operates in the majority of Zimbabwe's rural districts, with 450 clubs serving 30,000 young girls, and is poised for regional expansion in Southern Africa.