Betty H. Makoni

Girl Child Network, Zimbabwe

Betty Makoni is an outstanding example of someone who has dedicated her life to protecting the lives and liberties of young women in regions of crisis. Despite significant personal and cultural obstacles, Ms. Makoni has worked tirelessly to prevent violence, sexual abuse and discrimination against girls in Zimbabwe, Africa. Working together to change harmful traditional attitudes towards young girls, Girl-Child Network (GCN) has mobilized over 4,500 girls since 1998. Nearly half of the members live and attend school in rural areas where economic hardship is significant and where the demands of time and labor make life extremely difficult. Many of the girls use GCN to discuss problems of forced early marriage, genital mutilation, testing for virginity, unequal domestic work, pre-marital sex, selective education, rape, and limited economic options that drive young women into prostitution and the dangers of HIV/AIDS. They also receive education and training through GCN to enable them to generate income without personal risk. Ms. Makoni was born in Harare in 1971 and still lives and works in that area. She has a degree in Theatre Arts from the University of Zimbabwe and taught at the Zengeza High School. She currently serves as Director of the Girl- Child Network in Zimbabwe and is a board member of the San Francisco non-profit International Development Exchange. She is married with two small children.