Girl Empowerment Expands Further

betty makoniBetty Makoni is already a CNN Hero and now she's an African Goddess Award winner too. When she started the Girl Child Network in Zimbabwe over ten years ago, she envisioned a world where girls could reach their full potential at home, in school and in their community.  She's tirelessly worked toward that vision, helping girls to determine their own paths to success and support each other along the way. Betty receives the African Goddess Award on June 9th in Washington DC. She accepted the award crediting it to her community earlier this week writing, "Once again thank you friends. The award is ours together here and it is for girls you don't see here, but you trust I tried hard to help." An outpouring of support came to Betty as those of us who have watched her move onward in her vision congratulated and encouraged her.

Girl Child Network became a Firelight grantee partner in 2001. Funding provided start up funds and ongoing support for one of GCN’s safe houses, called “Empowerment Villages.” At each of these temporary homes, 60 girls each month received medical care, legal aid, and counseling as they recover from abuse. The GCN model remains strong in Zimbabwe and has since expanded to Malawi, South Africa, and Swaziland.

Some of you may have met Betty when she visited Firelight last March for International Women's Day. She talked with women at our office about her personal story and the Girl Child Network. The room was filled with women moved by her story and her commitment to girls' rights. You can read about it here.

African Goddess Magazine has selected Betty as their first award winner and it sets a high bar for future awardees. Congratulations Betty and we look forward to what you do next with and for girls in Zimbabwe and around the world.