An extension to the original study, “At the Coalface: Gender and Local Government” that covered four SADC countries (South Africa, Namibia, Lesotho and Mauritius) this report demonstrates both the challenges and possibilities at the local level. The lesson from the first study is that no country in the region is likely to make the SADC targets without adopting special measures.
The evidence gathered in this research shows that even in their small numbers women in Madagascar bring different perspectives and interests to local governance. They are concerned about every day issues – health, education, land and waste disposal. They are seen as hard working; accessible; close to the people and to local issues. How much more value could women add if only there were more of them!
The research, which was conducted in Madagascar in 2008, involved 123 women and 60 men councillors in seven regions who gave of their time for in-depth interviews. 50 women and 51 men participated in focus group discussions. Their views and voices bring this report to life and vividly illustrate the importance of local government in the governance of the country, and why gender should be at the heart of all processes.
This Malagasy report shows that there is a small number of women in the local government in Madagascar. Of the 1546 elected mayors, only 4,46 percent are women. On the council level, only 6, 03 percent are women compared to the 93, 97 percent men. These percentages are very far from the objective of the Protocol of the SADC which is to have 50% of the women from here 2015.
In spite of their small number, the women can make and make the difference in Madagascar. The research shows of concrete cases of women who showed that once that they can reach the communities; they can make the difference, this is why it is important for the women to take part in the decision-making.
The study highlights a great number of excellent examples of work which the women often do under difficult conditions with limited resources. However, the women still face many challenges when it comes to accessing local government and according to the research, the first barrier in Madagascar is the education; followed by the culture and tradition, domestic responsibility and the socialisation.
Since 2009, Madagascar has been going through a political crisis up until today. Reforms of the electoral code, as well as the revision of the constitution fall under the solutions of this exiting crisis and these reforms constitute an advisability to seize to integrate the parity.
Gender Links worked in partnership with Ialfine Papisy, who conducted the research with her team, and was lead by Loga Virahsawmy who is the director of the francophone office of gender links in Mauritius. Lukhanyo Nyati analysed the questionnaires and prepared most of the graphs in the book. Brief biographies of researchers are at the beginning of the book.