Report from the Madagascar Peace Building Conference

Report from the Madagascar Peace Building Conference

Date: December 14, 2011
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The women and peace building conference offered insight into the tools available for creating gender equality and improving gender representation in Madagascar’s security sector, peace negotiations and government. Currently there are 11.4% women in the police and only 37 women (as doctors) in the military. There are no women as gendarmerie and the officials were at pains to explain why this was the case and promised that next year’s intake would include women.

The presentation and discussions of the first day predominantly focused on understanding the current state of affairs in Madagascar from a historical, political and social perspective. The narrative of Madagascar’s development is that originally the country was divided into many territories of various sizes which were ruled by traditional chiefs, before Andrianampoinimerina unified the country in the late 18th century. On his deathbed, he recommended that the nation be ruled by the women of his family, which led to a succession of queens.

However, the last queen, Ranavalona III, was deposed and exiled to Algiers by the French colonial invaders in 1896. The country gained independence in 1960 but has had a troubled political existence. The latest unconstitutional change of government was in 2009 and SADC’s mediation effort, that has produced the Roadmap, has been to resolve this current political crisis.

The workshop was held at a crucial period in the SADC mediation process that aims to address the fragile government in transition in Madagascar. The address by South African Ambassador to Madagascar, His Excellency MonaisaMokgethi, who doubles as the SADC representative, noted that the Prime Minister is reviewing the lists and there is a chance that they may not comply with the need for gender representation as stipulated in the roadmap.

Mokgethiindicated that we would need to consider if we are going to stall the peace process because of this or – and he promised – make sure that the other transitional arrangements were gender representative. The women were emphatic that he takes the message back to SADC that the lists were not to be accepted if they did not comply to what was agreed to in the Roadmap.

Presentations on sharing “Lessons Learnt” from the South African, Zimbabwean and DRC peace building experience, provided insights into the different strategies employed in different conflict situations. Such insights caused much debate and deliberations on possible strategies that could be “borrowed” for the Madagascar peace building process.

  • The participants then decided on the following priority actions:
  • They would advocate for 50% women’s representation in the security sector
  • They would go to the SADC Troika to instill the need to ensure women’s representation in the transitional structures, and in the monitoring committee.
  • They would form a National Women’s Coalition (for the purpose of getting more women represented) and have a National Women’s Dialogue
  • They would embark on a media campaign

The Roundtable was well attended by various top officials, political party representatives and civil society representatives (CNOSC) – the roundtable was closed by the new Prime Minister. The message for women’s inclusion was certainly taken home at the right time. The women read out their recommendations and declaration and announced the launch on the National Working Group on Gender Peace and Security. In addition to the newly launched National Working group in Madagascar, we have also contributed to the launch of National Working groups in the DRC, Malawi and Zimbabwe. Such developments are encouraging and show that our work is gaining traction in the region. The workshop and roundtable received widespread TV and newspaper coverage. This was one workshop when I felt that our presence would make a considerable difference to the trajectory of events (as they relate to women’s participation) in this country.


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