AJWS Grantee Wins First-Ever UNDP Red Ribbon Award

TORONTO, August 18 – The Girl Child Network of Zimbabwe, an American Jewish World Service grantee since 2004, was awarded the United Nations Development Program Red Ribbon Award on Thursday, August 16, at the XVI International AIDS Conference in Toronto. This newly-created award provides worldwide recognition to an organization that has been creatively addressing HIV/AIDS prevention in Zimbabwe for the past seven years.

The UNDP Red Ribbon Award acknowledges the most innovative and least recognized efforts to combat HIV/AIDS in the developing world. Twenty-five finalists from across Latin America, Asia, and Africa were selected for this award, including three AJWS grantees: the Girl Child Network of Zimbabwe, the Rwanda Women’s Network, and GROOTS Kenya.

Crown Princess Mette-Marit of Norway presented the award to GCN, which was accepted by Girl Child Network Founder and Director Betty Makoni, longtime GCN supporter Tawona Shadreck Gwashavanhu, and 17-year-old GCN “girls’ club” member Silence Mazunga.

Founded in 1999 by a teacher, the Girl Child Network now supports more than 300 “girls’ clubs” around Zimbabwe that help girls to understand their rights and freedoms. The GCN also created “girls’ empowerment villages,” which provide safe transitional homes for girls who have been raped or abused, and GCN’s economic empowerment program trains girls in income-generating activities.

AJWS congratulates the dedicated staff of Girl Child Network, the hundreds of teachers who coach the GCN girls clubs, and the 20,000 girls that have been empowered by GCN’s extensive programming.

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