Zalifina Ranedson – Madagascar

Zalifina Ranedson – Madagascar

Date: June 30, 2015
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Miantso is a difficult council; basic services like water, electricity and sanitation are nearly non-existent. The roads are not only very bad but muddy. People have to walk for over 30 kms to attend meetings of the Council. But they are so committed that they do it.

All these constraints do not seem to worry the Mayor, as service delivery is done in a professional manner. The Mayor is soft spoken and looks shy, but she means business. Not only does she command respect, but she gets work done.

Apart from the day to day administration of being a Mayor, Ranedson is also a midwife, and when the actual midwife at the health centre is sick or on holiday, she helps at the health centre over and above her normal duties. She does vaccinations, HIV testing, syphilis testing, antenatal and post natal care, as well as delivery. The Mayor is also in charge of the budget of the Council and has to make sure that the cake is well divided, including activities for Gender Links.

Although there is a major problem of communication with no electricity, she is always on the lookout for new partnerships with national and international organisations. She has been able to get help from SAHA and Water AID for projects.

Being the Mayor also means dealing with conflict and reconciliation, especially when people have problems, whether it is councillors who are in disagreement or even couples who are fighting. “There are lots of problems, especially trying to reconcile people, and we have another major concern which is the stealing of livestock. People losing their livestock has become an everyday problem. This is their bread and butter; how will they live? This is a major concern, and even the police officer finds himself having a big load with just this one issue.

The Mayor had tears in her eyes when she told Gender Links that she has a son who is 14 years old and does see him as often as she would like to. “He has been in the capital city, Antananarivo for the past three years staying with family.” This breaks her heart, but she had to do it because there is no good secondary school facility in Miantso.

Being alone with her husband gives her more time for her work, and she works around the clock for the community. She even has a television set in her office that she plays from a generator when there is a big event. The whole community is then invited to come and watch television. This is the main focus of the Council. “There is no electricity and a generator is expensive; we cannot afford to play the television too often.”

The Mayor followed all the stages of the COE process, and as soon as the Plan of Action was developed, she put in place a Steering Committee on Gender. She wants to make sure that the plan is being implemented, monitored and evaluated. “We must know where we are going wrong and correct the gaps.”

Ranedson loves to see light and smiles on the faces of her community. “I get lots of satisfaction when I know people are happy. We may not have the basics, but I give them what I can and make sure that they are happy.”

Lots of women do not have birth certificates, and the Mayor has to see to it that they get help from the proper authorities to get the Certificates.

Ranedson trains women so that they can do their job properly. “There is no point in telling propel they are not good, we must help them to become skilled in their jobs.”

The Mayor believes that women in her locality are afraid to talk, as they lack confidence in themselves; yet they participate a lot in the economic life of the locality. She therefore encourages them to talk and make sure that their views are taken into consideration.

The fact that the Mayor is also in paramedic does make a lot of difference for her community. Developing the Gender Action Plan means she is now empowering women on food security. She buys seeds from her own money and distributes them to women so that they can plant rice. She is helping 160 vulnerable women by giving them food regularly, and empowers them to grow their own food. She does a lot to encourage children to go to school. She buys medication for the sick from her own money. “The problem is that we do not have a pharmacy in our Council, but only a little warehouse with the basic drugs.” She also helps with candles as people use lots of candles with no electricity. “Children do their homework with candles”. She is developing the project “Latrine pour tous” (Latrine for everybody” and encouraging all households to have their own latrine. She is also planning to put a latrine at the market place.

She is sad because of the political situation of Madagascar. Although she is working a lot for the community, there are still lots of problems that she cannot resolve by herself. The joy of the Mayor is when she sees the change in mentality of her community.

With the financial support of FAO, the National Office for Nutrition and the project SAHA, she has set up a canteen for school children with free food. “By doing this, children are now coming to school. This is a big encouragement; otherwise they prefer to remain on the streets.”

Without Gender Links, she would not have realised the importance of gender equality. She said she benefitted a lot from following all the stages of the COE workshops. She now takes into account the needs of women and the needs of men. She is implementing all she has learned from the training. She has put in place projects on Climate Change, Health and HIV and AIDS, and travels by her motorcycle to make sure that the projects are implemented. She also knows how to talk to the media, and whenever she has a project she does a press conference.

“Gender Links helped me to get confidence in myself and look at me now, I am not only a politician doing tremendous work for my community, but I have gone a long way.” The different stages of the COE process have helped the Mayor tremendously. “I attribute my success to Eva Ravaloriaka, Mayor of Majakanji, as I have followed all her work and have tried to use her model. I really appreciated when she presented the leadership paper at the 2012 National Summit in Antananarivo. Ialfine Papasy is also a role model for me as she has a strong personality. But I will tell you sincerely I saw you (Loga Virahsawmy) at the Madagascar Summit in 2012 and I really admired you as being so humble and honest. And now seeing you again in our Council I see my role model in front of me. You know how to talk to people even if you do not understand the language. You are a great woman and yet you talk to everybody and anybody. You must have seen for yourself how all these people are admiring you.”

For a Mayor, there is a man behind all the COE work. “The Secretary General of the Council, Rivo Rajaovelo is a great facilitator, and he is doing a great job.”

The Mayor means business as far as the COE is concerned. She has made sure that there is a Steering Committee. The Action Plan is not only being implemented but the Committee sees to it there is proper monitoring. The budget for the Plan of Action has been put on the notice board. She definitely believes it is her role to make a difference and hence helping vulnerable women, and is giving out seeds to the women from her own money.

She hopes to be a candidate for the local election in the future. She would like Gender Links to give training to women to encourage them to join politics. The Council of Miantso will enter in all the themes for the Summit, as well as Leadership.

Writing this story has been quite tough as the Mayor is more at ease in Malagasy, and the person who was translating was not too good in French either.

The modesty and humility of this Mayor must be shared with others. She knew that Loga Virahsawmy travelled a long distance on a rough and tough road; she woke up at 4.00 a.m. to run after a chicken, pluck it and cook it so that the management team could have a good lunch!!!


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