Irma Haritiana Rakotomalala – Madagascar

Date: July 1, 2015
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Irma Haritiana Rakotomalala

I’m the vice president of the council of Morondava, an urban commune. I haven’t worked directly through Gender Links, but I’ve received training from colleagues in neighboring communes who have gone through their gender training process.

There is so much work to be done on gender at the commune level. In our region, it seems like women don’t have the right to speak or involve themselves in politics. As they say, ‘the chicken doesn’t call.’ Women don’t have the right to make decisions, and participate in meetings. Women have been like pieces of furniture. However, this is changing slowly. We are creating freedom for ourselves, one step at a time. I am part of an association on gender; we mobilize women on the 8th of March. We are seeing change, one step at a time.

Men are starting to listen to us, but they feel like we are asking them to give up their power. This isn’t true. We are asking them to look at the way that they exercise their power, and we are asking the same of women. That is what leads to total equality.

At the moment, insecurity is one of the biggest challenges women in Madagascar face. Until 2008, people were facing a horrific situation, you can’t imagine the levels of violence. Women were raped, and men were killed. The security situation is now under control, but people have suffered a lot, and there is a lot of healing to do.

In recent years, we’ve worked well together, as a region, and everyone is supporting each other to promote development. But we have to make progress on many fronts. Literacy rates are low, particularly among women. Cattle is the base of our economy, and we need to increase productivity and herd sizes; this economic base will do a lot to support women and children.

Women are slowly starting to take spaces for themselves. We are putting out the message, saying ‘look at us, and see what we are capable of doing.’ This gives me a lot of hope for the future.

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