William Rabemananjara – Madagascar

William Rabemananjara – Madagascar

Date: July 1, 2015
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In 2011, Gender Links came to our commune to do a workshop. After that training, I became a community leader on gender, because I had already seen violence in Ravana. I lost my mother at only 3 months old, and my father when I was five, because of acts of terrorists. After that, I was adopted by my aunt in the capital, Tana. There, I was treated like a slave in her house. When I was 11, the director of a school learned of my situation, and gave me the opportunity to study. The school took responsibility for my fees, notebooks, and everything. I received very high marks, and thanks to this initial opportunity, a love of education was sparked in me; I’ve finished university, where I was a student leader.

Now, I try and contribute to the community as much as I can, teaching history to 5th and 6th grade students, and making sure that along with their lessons, all students learn something about children’s rights, gender equality, and women’s rights in particular.

There are many challenges to spreading this message in Madagascar. Tradition is very strong, and many men don’t understand why gender issues are about them as well. They see women like possessions, and objects in their household. They are there to cook, and clean. Changing these engrained mindsets takes time. The interventions Gender Links does is very important; we need to continue engagement over a long period of time. We get the tools to understand gender, and engage with it in the community. Many people feel like I’m working against men to ensure women’s rights; however, I can see that there’s a bigger mission; I’ve seen how women suffer, particularly at home.

I’m encouraged to continue this work, because even though I face a lot of opposition, and mistaken impressions, I know that women’s empowerment is so important for development, at every level, from the commune to nationally. I hope to see women taking part in decision making processes, and I hope to see more men and boys supporting them.

In the course of my work, I’ve discovered that there are so many different forms of violence; and I want to work to eliminate all of them. Violence against women and children is hidden, and this makes it even more prevalent in the community; particularly in its worst forms, such as incest and rape. The more we work together, however, the more we can accomplish to end violence.



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