Madagascar is among the poorest countries in the world – with women facing a disproportionate amount of challenges. Developing more gender-sensitive policies and working with development partners are ways to move the situation forward.

Over half of Madagascar’s population is under 25. A high fertility rate and a rapidly growing population place a strong imperative on action – both on the gender equality issues and on governance fronts.

Women face problems ranging from economic exclusion to low levels of representation in politics. Madagascar is also one of the countries with the highest rates of sexual violence in the world – with many women raped at a young age, and many children growing up without fathers.

Developing a strategy

The indicators [1]provided by the EU Gender Action Plan 2016-2020 (GAP II) – the EU’s framework for promoting gender equality and women and girls’ empowerment in its external relations – have helped the Delegation develop a strategy to address violence against women.

This, in turn, gave the Madagascar Government a framework it could use as well. “This was definitely a success of having dialogues with our national partners,” said Petrucci.

Federica Petrucci on the country context in Madagascar:

The GAP II has also helped with gender budgeting, providing funds to help target gender in the reform of the budget programming.

“Results can already be seen in the agricultural sector, where many women work” said Petrucci. “There’s now more acknowledgement of women’s work and in turn they earn a bit more than they did before – and not only within the family unit,” she explained. “They’ve gained a certain amount of their own capital – limited, of course – but important and already visible.”

The Delegation conducted a joint country gender analysis with EU Member States, which has been a success as programmes can now be better tailored to the needs of women in Madagascar.

“The gender analysis has helped us understand the needs of each cooperation sector and to look at the gender issues in sectors such as infrastructure and energy, which have not traditionally been sectors where you’d think of conducting gender analysis,” Petrucci said.

She added that forging partnerships will be needed in further engagements with the country – including figuring out how gender can be included in new policy tools, such as the European Investment Plan, and integrated with the actions of financial institutions.

Meanwhile, more domestic challenges remain – from ensuring girls are able to attend school to helping them become active in the political life of the country.

“We need more female candidates running for elections, and most of all, winning elections,”

said Petrucci. As it stands, only five percent of mayors in the country are women.

“We still have a long way to go, but we’re working on it,” Petrucci added. “We’ll see how things develop after legislative elections and how our actions progress.”


[1] The GAP II provides a list of indicators against which to report. The indicators proposed are based on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) indicators as well as the EU Results Framework.

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DISCLAIMER: This information is provided in the interests of knowledge sharing and capacity development and should not be interpreted as the official view of the European Commission, or any other organisation.

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