Zimbabwean women nominated for the Women for Africa award
Two UK- based Zimbabwean women are set to be recognised for their inspirational work campaigning for girls’ rights after being shortlisted for a Women 4 Africa award.
Human rights campaigner Betty Makoni has been nominated in the Inspirational and Humanitarian Woman of the Year categories and BekezeleNsingo has been nominated for a recognition award for her work with the African Mothers Foundation which she began.
Women4Africa is a UK-based organisation which works to help street children and girls in Africa. It launched the scheme to honour and celebrate the work of dedicated African women making a real difference in their communities.
Makoni has won more than 20 awards for her work helping girls in the rural areas take control of their lives and break the cycle of the poverty trap they are born into, through her organisation the Girl Child Network. But she says each award is special because it raises more awareness about the plight of children in the rural villages.
It is a plight she knows all too well. She grew up in a rural village in Zimbabwe and survived domestic abuse and rape as a child. Through sheer determination she worked her way through school and became a teacher after gaining two bachelor degrees.
She has expanded her network to helping girls in Sierra Leone, South Africa, Uganda as well as the USA and the UK. And she uses her inspirational story to teach children that they can work their way out of their villages.
She said: “What we are doing is giving girls the skills they needs to make something of their lives. We set up girls’ clubs in villages and teach them leadership skills. They are free to talk through the issues and problems they are encountering but also to know that they have solutions.” She said the girls are encouraged to start small businesses to make money for themselves by planting food or learning how to make reuseable sanitary towels they can sell. “Maybe these girls want to get through secondary school, maybe they have even dreamed of going to university. You need someone to stand up and tell them: ‘you can achieve that.’”
Nsingo also works to help girls in the rural areas become self-sufficient. She was inspired to start her foundation after an emotional trip to Zimbabwe in 2008 when she was shocked by the dire situation she found in her village.
“We work with young girls in Zimbabwe, keeping them in school and ensuring they get an education, we pay their school fees. I also do workshops teaching girls how to make re-useable sanitary towels with materials available to them, because it is very difficult for them to access these things. I am also working with doctors and midwives in the country to make sure they have the right drugs to prevent maternal deaths,” she said.
Nsingo, who has also been nominated for a Zimbabwe Achievers Award, said she knows Betty well and is proud that their work is being recognised.
“That is the mark of a Zimbabwean woman, to keep on fighting and fighting until you see the light at the end of the tunnel. You don’t stop,” she said.
A third Zimbabwean, singer/songwriter Roucheon, has been nominated for Outstanding Mother of the Year and Business Woman of the Year. The Women4Africa winners will be presented with their awards on May 19 at a ceremony in London. – KJW