Marie Chantal Razanamasy – Madagascar

Marie Chantal Razanamasy – Madagascar

Date: July 1, 2015
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I am the president of an association of farmers working together for rural development. We share information on crucial issues, such as the fight against GBV and HIV/AIDs. We work on any issues relevant to the populace, whether it me problem solving, mobilizing people around issues that affect them, or sharing information on development topics.

We have been particularly active around cultural practices; some of them are positive, but some are very harmful, and we need to build awareness around them. Women’s involvement in decision making and leadership is another topic we’re active on. We have a very low level of participation among women, and looking at how to change that is a priority.

Gender Links has helped us frame the issue of gender, and communicate it effectively. When we can take the issue of gender out to local communities, that’s when we’ll start seeing women’s participation pick up. We are already seeing changes come from our activities. Now, people are more aware of different forms of violence, and they feel like there are ways of responding to them. Now that we can discuss GBV as a human rights issue, it doesn’t stay behind closed doors at home. We have created a committee to support the fight against violence at a local level. This has been very effective, because people feel like there are structures there to support them. They have someone to contact.

Change is happening slowly, but it is visible. At the local school, a place has been allocated for women to take part in decision making. Women are starting to speak and participate in local activities, like association life. This is a real change in how people are acting. Before Gender Links’ intervention, there was only one woman who would participate in the commune’s public life. Now there are three who have been elected, and more than a dozen who are planning to participate in the upcoming elections. Their involvement has increased dramatically. And this is only in local politics; there are also women who are now more sure of themselves, and ready to become leaders in business, or in other ways in the community. The more we continue trainings, sharing information, and lobbying, the more change we see. For example, many different spaces are now talking about instituting quotas for women.

There are a range of challenges in our work, but they don’t stop us from moving forward. Our region is very big, and travel is difficult. Distances are far, and transport infrastructure is poor. This really inhibits our work. However, we try to find a variety of ways of spreading our message. In the coming year, we are planning a project during an annual festival in Madagascar. It is a big holiday, where people receive over 100 families. We want to use this time to spread messages of sexual violence. We plan to elect a group to work in rural areas that don’t have electricity, and bring lighting to the festivals, so that girls won’t be in the dark during these parties. It’s very important, both because these festivals can put women and girls in danger, and also because it’s a platform to speak to everyone in the family and community.

At the moment, our collaboration with Gender Links is strong. But in the future, we need to reach out to other organizations and local authorities. The more people we bring together, the more progress we’ll make. There are many activities taking place, so we will slowly make change happen.


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