Honorine Rasoamampionona – Madagascar

Honorine Rasoamampionona – Madagascar

Date: June 30, 2015
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My name is Honorine Rasoamampionona, president of the Association of Women in the rural council of Anjinjaomby. Our association gathers women working in the field of vanilla in the region, as it is the main occupation of women in my council. Madagascar is in a political and social crisis. Revenue has decreased due to the low price of vanilla. The weather has also changed these last few years, which has affected production.

Our council is led by a very active woman. Having a woman mayor is special, because in our region, traditional values do not accept women as leaders. In fact, as in most African countries, women in our region are considered housewives and mothers. Even on the road, when women and men walk together, women to not have the right to walk in front of men. It is a mindset that does not allow women to have a place in politics or in any level of management. Even though these traditional principles are still widespread in our community, our mayor has done her best to prove that she is able to accomplish what was considered a man’s responsibility. Our mayor was elected because she knew the needs of the community. Being a woman, she was aware of women’s specific needs.

Gender Links came to our council in 2010 to do research on women and local government. Since our mayor is one of the few female mayors in Madagascar, the council of Anjinjaomby was chosen as a case study for their research. After this first contact, GL came to present the COE project. I found this project very interesting, because it is made up of strategies to mainstream gender within the administration and service of the council. It gives us hands-on tools that are specific to our context. The mayor did not hesitate to accept the partnership with GL.

Since the council has been part of the GL Centre of Excellence, we have been granted trainings on many themes, and I had the opportunity to attend all the trainings. First of all, we have learned how to establish an action plan that takes into account gender and gender based violence. The process of drafting a gender action plan helped me to understand that to achieve gender equality, we need to plan together in a logical way, with a timeframe to make progress. Having a gender action plan has been very helpful, because we can monitor ourselves at regular intervals. At the present time, the council’s progress against the action plan is reviewed every three months according to the context and our new priorities.

The second workshop we did with Gender Links dealt with budget, communications and IT, as well as strategic and practical needs. These modules were quite new for me. Not only did I learn theories, but the group work helped me be involved and to understand these new tools better. The facilitation of the workshop was very participative. These different capacity building trainings were important for me as a leader of an association. I have been able to take my new skills back to the association, and members have become active in the organization of activities in the council, such as during market day, international days and the 16 Days of Action. Secondly, I became more confident as I gained communication skills. Even the members of my association noted this change. I can say without hesitation that the change in my life has had an impact on others.

Gender Links has changed the minds of many men in the council, and this change is now beginning to be widespread in the council. I must admit that achieving gender equality is still a long process in our community and in Madagascar. However, GL was right to have chosen to work at a local level. In my opinion, all change begins at the local level. One of main challenges to achieving gender equality in my council is tradition and culture. But for myself, I have hope and faith; I have felt that changes are taking place. Thank you Gender Links.

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