Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Betty Makoni Wins Prestigious Awards

Life is Zimbabwe is very unstable right now. Recently, a group of non-profits that stay connected were alarmed and concerned for Betty’s safety. It is hard to tell what the situation is really like in Zimbabwe with the type of newscasts that are being broadcast in the US; they are extremely limited and brief. As we were all waiting to hear from Betty, I received this ARTICLE from a friend.

“No wonder we haven’t heard from her”, my friend said. “This is what she is dealing with”. Just when the nail biting got worse, I received another email with the subject line reading this: Re: FIVE HOURS AGO, BETTY MAKONI WON THE SWEDISH PRIZE!

So, here you go…the full press release. You can also check The World’s Children’s Prize for the Rights of the Child, for more information.

Press release:

Children’s heroes awarded 12 million children’s prizes for the rights of the child
Girls’ rights crusader Betty Makoni, Zimbabwe makes a grand slam.
Cynthia Maung, Burma, and Inderjit Khurana, India receive the children’s honorary awards.

Three strong women fighting for a better world for children and for more respect for children’s rights have been given awards by The World’s Children’s Prize for the Rights of the Child (WCPRC), which is supported by 12 million children in 25,000 schools in 85 countries.

5,2 million children all over the world, in a global vote, have selected girls’ rights crusader Betty Makoni from Zimbabwe as the recipient of this year’s Global Friends' Award. Betty Makoni receives the prize because she, after being abused herself as a child, empowers girls to demand their rights. She supports those who are exposed to abuse and protects others from assault, forced marriage, trafficking and sexual abuse.

The world's largest (in terms of how many children participate in selecting the prize laureates) and most prestigious prize for outstanding contributions to the rights of the child - The World's Children's Prize for the Rights of the Child (WCPRC) - also has another main award, the World's Children's Prize. The recipient of this award is selected by a jury of children from 15 countries, some of whom have been child soldiers, slaves on farms or in brothels, refugees or lived on the streets. Through their own life experience, they are experts in the rights of the child. The jury children, who didn’t know the result of the global vote when they made their decision, also decided to give their award to Betty Makoni.

The World’s Children’s Honorary Awards goes to Cynthia Maung, Burma and Inderjit Khurana, Indien. Cynthia Muong receives her prize because she has fought for the health and education of hundreds of thousands of refugee children for 20 years, both under the military dictatorship in Burma and in refugee camps in Thailand. Inderjit Khurana receives her prize because she has run over a hundred schools and two phone help lines for 21 years, helping the poorest, most vulnerable children who live and work on station platforms.


The WCPRC empowers children and young people all over the world so that they can make their voices heard and demand respect for their rights in accordance with the UN Child Convention. The WCPRC has quickly grown into the world's largest annual educational initiative for children on rights, democracy and global citizenship. As part of this process, the children award the world’s most respected prizes for outstanding contributions to the rights of the child.

12 million students at 25,000 schools in 85 countries participate in the WCPRC, and that number is growing constantly. 5.2 millions of those children participated in the Global Vote to determine who should receive the Global Friends’ Award 2007. An international child jury – consisting of children who are experts on the rights of the child through their own experiences as soldiers, refugees, street children or slaves in brothels or on farms – choose the recipient of the other major award, the World’s Children’s Prize.

Over 350 organizations all over the world support the WCPRC, which also collaborates with many Departments of Education and youth media projects worldwide (among them Times of India’s Newspaper in Education and Grupo Positivo’s web sites in Brazil). The prize magazine, like the website, www.childrensworld.org, is available in nine languages and is read by over 7 million young people.


The patrons of the WCPRC include Queen Silvia of Sweden, Nelson Mandela, President Xanana Gusmão of East Timor, former Executive Director of Unicef Carol Bellamy, former UN Under-Secretary-General Olara Otunnu, and Nobel Prize Winner in Economics Joseph Stiglitz.

The prize money, SEK 1 million (USD 140,000), is to be used in the recipients’ work for the rights of the child and will help some of the world's most vulnerable children. It is supported by AstraZeneca, Banco Fonder and pi.se. The WCPRC was founded by the Swedish organization Children’s World, and is a Swedish National Millennium Project.

This year’s prize ceremony will be held on Monday 16 April (2.00 pm to 3.45 pm) at Gripsholm Castle in Mariefred, where HM Queen Silvia will help the children to give out the prizes. All three final candidates will be honoured.


BETTY MAKONI, Zimbabwe, is awarded for her long struggle to empower girls in Zimbabwe, to free them from abuse and let them have the same opportunities in life as boys. Through the Girl Child Network Betty has built three safe empowerment villages for very vulnerable girls and started 500 girls' clubs with 30,000 members, mostly in rural areas and in poor townships. Betty saves girls from child labour, forced marriage, abuse, trafficking and sexual assault. She gives girls food, clothes, medical care, a home, the chance to go to school and safety. Above all, she gives girls courage and strength to demand respect for their rights. Betty and Girl Child Network speak out on behalf of girls in Zimbabwe, by constantly encouraging the government and different organisations to take care of the country's girls. Betty is often threatened because of her work.

CYNTHIA MAUNG, Burma is awarded for her near 20-year struggle on behalf of hundreds of thousands of children who live as refugees inside and outside Burma. 200,000 refugees, most of them children, receive free health care at Dr Cynthia’s Mae Tao Clinic, which also trains medics who return to their villages in Burma or to refugee camps in Thailand to work. The clinic sends hundreds of “backpack medics” to Burma. They carry medicine, train children in health and hygiene and treat 150,000 internally displaced people, many of them children. Cynthia’s clinic gives birth certificates to the many children who lack these, runs two schools and school hostels, and regularly visits 50 other refugee schools to give the children vitamins and vaccinations and gives food to malnourished children.

INDERJIT KHURANA, India, is awarded for her long struggle for the poorest and most vulnerable children’s right to education. She opened her first railway platform school 21 years ago. Today her organisation, Ruchika, runs 12 platform schools, 6 nurseries, 75 slum schools, 20 nursery schools, preventative HIV and AIDS projects, 2 “schools on wheels”, vocational training and clean water and sanitation projects in the slums. They also offer healthcare and run an ambulance service for emergencies. Ruchika has two help lines for children and women and gives school grants to gifted poor children. Inderjit believes that if the child cannot come to the school, the school has to come to the child. She and Ruchika seek to give a basic education, building up children’s self-esteem and opening the door for them to have a life free from poverty, child labour and violence.

For more information on the WCPRC and the prize candidates see:
PRESS at www.childrensworld.org, where you can also find high-res pics; Video material on request.

Contact: Magnus Bergmar, +46(0)159-129 00, +46(0)70-515 58 39 magnus.bergmar@childrensworld.org

No comments: