Madagascar: We can overcome the violence!

Date: November 18, 2015
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Bongatsara, Madagascar, 19 November, 2015: I am 26 and I am living in Famonjena village in Bongatsara council. I am married and have two children.

I got married at the age of 19. In my life, I have experienced a lot of sorrowful moments, especially during my married life. Violence, this word actually summarises what I have endured, not only from my partner but also from my surrounding family and neighbours. I come from a modest family. Since my childhood I experienced a precarious life.

Although I am a victim of violence, I am lucky because I could follow Gender Links (GL) training on women and entrepreneurship. I came to know Gender Links at the listening and counselling center of the council. As the paralegal of the center knew my story, they encouraged me to take part in this training project.

Following the training sessions was for me an eye opener. Indeed, I discovered that I could improve my life, that I have a personality that can be exploited and that success is not only for the rich. I had the hope that I can be free from violence. I began to act and followed all the methods and techniques learned during the trainings. I began with clearing my ideas that were confused before. I learned to make plans and not proceed blindly as I did before.

I found that all of the sessions during the training are useful to start a business. The lessons are easy to learn and to put in practice. At the beginning, I had issues with my husband while attending the training, as he said that I spent a lot of time there without gaining money. After I reported to him what we have learned, he was convinced and even encouraged me to continue.

In the past, I worked as a stone breaker in a quarry not far from my village. At that time, I worked for long hours but I could earn money to feed my children. When I did the training on entrepreneurship I drafted a business plan and did my best to follow. I had the idea and set up a business, still in the quarry business, as it has been my dream for a long time; but this time I will be my own boss and would not depend on anyone. The training helped me a lot. I am so thankful because GL and the council, especially the mayor helped and assisted me a lot in this process.

Now, I can affirm proudly that I am free from violence. People around me are totally surprised about my new life and the change in my life has had positive impact on them.

My husband was the first person who noticed change in me. He said that I became more of a listener and confident. My business perspective amazed him and he supported me to fulfill it. My husband has also changed, humiliation and threats became affection and love. Now that I participate in the household income, he is trying to help me in the household duties (washing up, cooking, etc.), which would have been impossible before. This situation helped me realise that women should help their husbands in supporting household expenses. In this way, harmony and a respectful relationship can be negotiated.

Thanks to my progress, I have participated in two national summits and one regional summit organized by GL. The summit was a motivational experience for me as a young activist. The exchanges of culture and good practices during summits helped me to have innovational ideas for my future life. Participating in the summits innovated my way of thinking and opened my eyes to new perspectives.

On a professional level, the project helped me to have a clearer idea of what I could do to make my life better.

After the first training with GL, I could already start my own small business and my development activities. Currently, I have become a supplier and employ five people, three men and two women at the quarry. Today I can save money and make plans. Thanks to the training, I have learnt how to separate professional and personal expenses.

On a personal level, I became more confident about my future. My mother congratulated me for the great effort that I made.

In the community, I am more valued and people come to me for advice. In addition, I can help my surroundings and my family.

In the future, I would like to help women survivors of violence in my council. At present, I am part of an association created by the beneficiaries of the project entrepreneurship. This newly created association will help its members to have professional training and search for new opportunities.

I would like to thank Gender Links and the council of Bongatsara for their support and for having changed my life. I promise that I will do my best to transmit to others what I have gained.

(Randrianantenaina Narindrasoa is a participant in the GL Empowering Women, Ending Violence programme in Madagascar. This article is part of a special Gender Links News Service Series for Women’s Entrepreneurship Day).


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