Rakotoarimanana Estella – Madagascar

Rakotoarimanana Estella – Madagascar

Date: November 24, 2015
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« Liberty rhymes with financial independence »

Estella is a young woman who lives in the council of Foulpointe located in the west of Madagascar. She is currently working in the listening and counselling centre in the town.

Estella followed the entrepreneurship training proposed by Gender Links (GL) in 2014. Before the entrepreneurship project, Estella has already encountered GL in several initiatives such as the COE process and the summits. She met the criteria of participants called “survivors” sought by GL because she was a victim of violence of all kinds on the part of her former partner.

After a three year relationship, they decided to proceed to customary marriage. After that her partner changed his behavior and became aggressive which began with insults, he then became violent verbally and physically. For him, the parents’ blessing during marriage meant that Estella was his “property”. Estella hung on for a year before deciding to break up. After that, she lived alone for a year and it was during this period that she attended the training offered by GL. All the sessions during the workshops were beneficial for her. However, she was especially interested in the importance placed on the financial independence of women in the household. Estella began to take note of her expenses in order to better manage her resources. She put money aside and began to make plans whereas before she had borrowed money from others.

Since then Estella’s life has changed. She learnt to assume responsibility rigorously. She also represented Foulpointe during the GL national summits in 2013, 2014 and 2015. She has regained confidence and does not hesitate to help, give advice and counsel those around her whenever the opportunity arises. “I have realised that I can bring a lot to my community despite the limited experience I have acquired” she says. She has decided to create an association for the defence of women. This association aims to prevent violence and counsel survivors. Currently, the association counts around twenty women.

Estella also earned the respect of her community and is no longer called by her first name, but is known as “Lady” in the neighbourhood. Her current partner fully accepts that Estella is a woman who has a lot of responsibility and therefore has very little time for him. The situation is all the more troublesome because he works and lives in another city which means they only meet only on weekends. However, the situation became uncomfortable for Estella and she dared to let him know. It was previously unthinkable for her to say what she thought.

Estella plans to improve and still expand her activities, develop a nursery, have a grocery store, continue sewing and sell goods outside the city. The dynamism of Estella allowed us to choose her as driver of change of the council of Foulpointe without any doubt.


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