Girl Child Network Worldwide is the lead organisation in empowering and educating girls in Africa making it the only grassroots organisation for girls sharing its model beyond country of origin. Our Girl Child Empowerment Model is replicated all over the world by everyone. We inspire girls to take leadership in gender equality at community level. We believe girls are not victims. They only need their potential unleashed so that they reach their full potential. We are here to inspire and empower so that girls aspire and achieve. We are confident of what we do because we have over 300 000 girls we supported through girls clubs in Zimbabwe and now they are women leaders all over the world.
“From our lived experiences, we have so many practical ways to support the empowerment of girls in the home, school, and community so that what happened to us will never happen to women and girls again. We want a new breed of girl who will walk in the fullness of her potential,”— Muzvare Betty Makoni — Director and Founder of Girl Child Network
Girl Child Network Worldwide has emerged out of multiple personal experiences, collectively representing proven track record that is acknowledged around the world and makes it possible to move seamlessly from the African village to the Global village.Girl Child Network Worldwide is at the centre of a global commitment to gathering, codifying, training and promoting the experiences and expertise of girl advocates.GCNW replicates a best practice model that has secured 32 global awards for excellence, innovation, and effectiveness in the delivery of girls` empowerment programs at the local grassroots level. It is a globally acclaimed organization anchored in many parts of the world. It stands as a great inspiration to girls and women who want to actualize their full potential. By taking a unique empowerment and proactive rather than welfarist or reactive approach, GCNW motivates girls to spearhead their own liberation.
The idea to expand GCN into Girl Child Network Worldwide (GCNW) was conceived in September 2007 by Muzvare Betty Makoni, and current US-based trustee Leanne Grossman who started fundraising projects to support girls in Zimbabwe who had fallen into disastrous situations for which no one immediately and effectively mobilized. This had a huge impact as the assistance benefited 160 girls over a three-month period.
The GCNW Empowerment Model worked very well in Zimbabwe and in other parts of Africa, however, its transformation into GCNW comes at a time when its founding members strongly feel an international platform would unite girls in their activism and allow them to speak out with one well coordinated voice, ensuring a clear worldwide leadership and solidarity on issues affecting the girl child. GCNW is meant to be the centre of coordination and learning, and to provide a forum for the exchange of ideas, knowledge, and resource
WHY THE GIRL CHILD?
Poem:The Girl Child by Sarah Chinhire aged 10
Sarah Chinhire was at a rural school and wrote this poem entitled The Girl Child. Now she finished secondary school with support from Girl Child Network Zimbabwe.
They regard us as special,
Yet they abuse us culturally.
We are the slaves of the home,
We cook, clean the house,
And look after children.
We are never given the chance to go to school.
We are used to appease the evil spirits.
We are forced to marry in times of hunger.
But why the girl child and not the boy child?
Parents, you need to change your attitude towards girls.
Give us equal opportunities
And we will prove you wrong.
Parents, if you educate a girl
You educate a nation.
We need our nation to be educated
What we do is to empower and educate the girl child
We are here to give voice, choice and space to girls. There is gender discrimination against girls in Africa leading to gross violations of girls rights. Girls are taken as second class citizens. Despite laws and international legal instruments to protect children and women, girls face the worst abuses in the home, school and community. Harmful cultural practices such as female genital mutilation, forced marriages and appeasing avenging spirits are still strong in many societies.For example,in Zimbabwe only an average 6000 girls are raped yearly and over 2000 girls are forced to marry in Johane Marange church. The future woman is destroyed at a tender age.
Where there is war and conflict, girls are the primary victims where they are forced into sex by youth militia. The school is not safe. Most classrooms have been turned into bedrooms with many girls forced to marry teachers who impregnate them. Menstruation is hard to manage during school especially for rural girls. 80% girls in rural areas miss school an average 3 months a year during menstruation. There is 60% HIV prevalence of girls compared to 10% boys. In Zimbabwe 93% girls are sexually abused compared to 7% girls and this does not mean the 7% boys is nothing to worry about, it is only girls are in the majority of abuses. The situation of girls has led to massive loss of human potential and the future woman leader in Africa unless we make solid the foundation of the girl. Unless we move in with empowerment and education programs, due to gender based violence some girls will not exist.
Girl Child Network Worldwide believes that girls can excel and reach their potential as women leaders if their rights, empowerment and education are fully supported and promoted.
GCNW mobilises financial and human resources and channel them directly to African girls who are economically deprived, at risk of harmful cultural practices and in countries of instability.
Girl Child Network Worldwide envisions girls in Africa are empowered and retained in school to attain quality education with support of whole communities. Quality education in a violent free, supportive and conducive environment in the home, school and community builds their career aspirations leading them to walk in the fullness of their potential as women leaders
GCNW is the lead organization in the empowerment of girls worldwide. We empower formerly exploited girls and unleash their potential to become future women leaders. Our specific objectives are:
- To identify and support girls who are at risk of, or who have survived gender based violence throughout the world.
- To advance girls’ access to education, thereby encouraging the learning and growth of girls individually and collectively
- To combat economic and social inequality so as to minimize gender based violence.
Why we are unique
Girl Child Network Worldwide emerged out of multiple personal experiences, collectively representing a proven track record that is acknowledged around the world and makes it possible to move seamlessly from the African village to the Global village.
Abuse of young girls recognises no borders, cultures, creed or colour. It is all around us, representing massive loss of human potential as well as a gross violation of human rights.
The Need for Solidarity
The unique vulnerability of the Girl Child
Like women, girls are disadvantaged because of their gender; but coupled with this gender-based disadvantage is an age-based disadvantage. The girl child is particularly vulnerable because of the combination of her age and gender. Furthermore, as outlined below, a combination of sexual, social, cultural, economic and legal realities in Zimbabwe and elsewhere have all interacted to create a particularly hostile environment for the girl child.
Girls are struck by many disasters in the world. Violence against girls is rampant within homes, schools, and communities. According to GCNW’s findings:
- It is estimated that 60 million girls are not in school and half of them get married before they reach 15-years-old.
- Due to many harmful cultural practices like female genital mutilation and forced religiously and culturally sanctioned marriages, girls are five times more at risk of contracting HIV/AIDS than boys due to harmful cultural practices.
- Annually, an estimated 23 million girls worldwide are raped and exposed to harmful cultural practices and most of them die in silence.
- In Zimbabwe, 7000 girls fell victim to rape in 2001. This figure is a very conservative estimate because many girls are unable to report.
- In situations of poverty, girls are commoditized in exchange for food.
- There is continual deprivation from birth up until womanhood, with cycles of violence and poverty recycled from grandmother, to mother, to daughter.
Gender discrimination due to cultural attitudes, beliefs, and practices continues to take its toll on the life of girls and prevents their full physical, emotional, and spiritual growth as well as their potential to become women leaders. Therefore, it is critical that we stand in solidarity with all girl children throughout their quest for emancipation. Girls from all parts of the world are already joining hands not as victims but as survivors and leaders!
Our logo and what the colors mean to us
Our logo is colored purple which is a color for royalty, wisdom, positive attitudes. It is a color for achievers, dreamers and visionaries. That is what we want girls in Africa to know that they are not victims but leaders. Blue is a colour for boys and we have taken it for girls to fight gender stereotypes and making girls pinky, sex objects and weak and placing them at same level as boys.