Ialfine Papisy

Ialfine Papisy

Date: March 4, 2011
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Learning Journey

At the age of 20, I left Madagascar to continue my studies in France, keeping in mind that I would return to Madagascar someday to bring my skills to benefit my native country.

In France, I joined the Université Lumière in Lyon where I passed a Master of Social and Economic Administration with a major in Business Administration. I wanted to pursue my studies after my Masters, but eventually I found a job directly as fiscal assistant in a service business where I spent three years of my life.

Meanwhile I got married and had a daughter.

After eight years in France, I returned to Madagascar with my family in 2004. Our plan was to create a service company and we did it successfully. After a few months to get settled, the Chamber of Commerce of Toamasina nominated me to be their Secretary General. I held that position for two years.

During my position at the Chamber of Commerce, I was invited by the Federation for the Promotion of Women and Children, a federation of women’s associations, to attend their AGM. The renewal of the staff was among the association’s agenda. Once in the meeting, the participants wanted me to be their Deputy Chair. At that time I totally had no idea about NGO life because I was so focused on the business world, but finally I agreed to be Deputy Chair.

The story did not end there. One month after my election as Deputy Chair, the Chair resigned and I was directly appointed Chair. That is how my NGO life started and meanwhile I left the Chamber of Commerce to integrate an industrial company, bamboo floor processing unit.

In May 2007, I went to Mauritius to get treatment and that trip is a memorable moment in my life. I was lucky to have been invited by Loga Virahsawmy to her villa at Rose Hill, and my story with Gender Links began that evening. During that evening, Colleen was among Loga’ s guests and after a discussion the three of us had, it was agreed that FPFE would become the chapter of Gender and Media Southern Africa (GEMSA), and both would come to Madagascar shortly.

It was done so and Colleen ad Loga came to Toamasina a few months later and conducted training in monitoring for us. It was the first project I had carried out with Gender Links. The monitoring was really interesting, it was something so new for me and my team. Analysing articles in newspapers and in news on the radio and television allowed us to have fresh eyes on the media.

This news did not stop there, before their departure, Loga and Colleen invited me to come to Johannesburg for their next meeting. In October 2007, I went on my first trip to South Africa, and I must confess that I was worried about the language problem. Once in the meetings, I was impressed by all those participants who spoke English. But despite the language barrier, I felt comfortable and was able to participate fully in the meeting.

Gender Links has shared several projects with FPFE thereafter, not to mention Business Unusual, the implementation of gender policy and HIV/AIDS in the media houses, research on the role of women and men in newspaper companies, Glass Ceilings.
In addition, I also became the focal point of the Alliance for the SADC Protocol on Gender and Development in Madagascar. In 2008, I was assigned to do a research on Gender and Local Government in Madagascar. With a team of five researchers, we conducted interviews with 123 councillors in the seven regions of Madagascar. 50 women and 51 men participated actively in the discussion group.

Twenty case studies and portraits were made thereafter to complete the survey. This research is part of the most memorable experiences in my life, before I did not know what quantitative and qualitative research meant.

I was eventually asked to write the report and to assure the publication. It was a great challenge because at the same time I should also comment on the graphs. I confess I had a difficulty in the realisation of that publication, but thanks to the dedication and support of my colleagues from Mauritius, I could manage.

I gained knowledge on publications, how to write a report following a research, how to comment a graph, how to enhance portraits and case studies, how to work with designers and printing houses.

Following that research, GL offered me the post of “Gender Justice and Local Government Facilitator” which I accepted with pleasure.

I have held that position since April 2010, and I still continue to learn with Gender Links.

Today I can say that GL changed my life, professionally and in my private life too. On a professional level, I can work at ease in the English language, both written and spoken. I also developed new skills in the “gender” concept in gender and local government, gender and education, and gender and the media.

In terms of personal development, today I am able to work on different subjects and under pressure, as with GL everything is urgent and we must adapt to the context.

In my private life, I divorced in 2007. During my work with Gender Links, I finally found the right man, besides today I am the happy mum of a 5 month-old son.

Thanks to Gender Links, two hearts have been linked!

Ialfine Papisy is the Gender Justice and Local Government Facilitator in Madagascar.


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