Throughout a normal week in the Hwange District of Zimbabwe, 25 girls between the ages of 6 to 18 years visit GCN’s Hwange Empowerment Village. The Village provides a temporary shelter for girls rescued from rape and child abuse as well as a center for education and counseling and a place where girls can go after school. In these centers, the girls are fed, they receive basic health care and sanitary napkins, their uniforms are washed and they have a place to do their homework for school.
According to GCN staff, indicators of empowerment for these girls includes the ability to express themselves through poem writing and drama classes for self-esteem development as well as the ability to express their needs to their teachers and parents.
Empowerment Village staff recently held a Sports Day at the Village that included netball, three-legged races and egg tosses as a way for the girls to play and have some fun. They hope to use such techniques to build confidence for these girls, many of whom, have low self-esteem. All the girls come from poor backgrounds, and unfortunately many are now the head of their household, responsible for younger siblings, because they have lost their parents to AIDS.
IDEX congratulates our partner, Girl Child Network (GCN), on the announcement that the organization is a winner of the Red Ribbon Award: Celebrating Community Leadership and Action on AIDS. Based in Zimbabwe, GCN is the first winner of the Red Ribbon award for Addressing Gender Inequities that Fuel the HIV/AIDS Epidemic. The award was given to them at the XVI International AIDS Conference in Toronto last month.
Sarah Dotlich, IDEX's Africa Program Director announced, "We have been watching their truly exceptional work grow since GCN's inception in 1998. It's fitting to see GCN receive international recognition that can only help them to further their objectives while providing a model of similar initiatives in the region."
To learn more about the compelling work of GCN come and hear one of the founding members speak. Memory Bandera will be in the Bay Area at the end of September and IDEX is hosting an event for her at the Women's Building, see below.
Girl Child Network Founder and Director, Betty Makoni was in Geneva this month as part of the Women's World Summit Foundation's (WWSF) annual award ceremony marking World Day for Prevention of Child Abuse - November 19. In 2003 WWSF created the "Betty Makoni Prize" for innovative prevention activities. This signifies the international acclaim that Betty and GCN have received for the work that they have done to support the girl child in Zimbabwe. GCN has come far in its seven years of existence. Congratulations Betty!
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Project Leader: Sarah Dotlich
IDEX Africa Program Director
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