Malagasy women key to fight against rural poverty
Living in the community of Ambohijanaka, Madagascar, Rasoa has faced many challenges in her life including poverty and a disability that has hindered her opportunities for employment.
Having never held a job, the mother of four is determined to better the lives of her children and create a brighter future for her family.
Rasoa is one of 200 Malagasy women who have joined the Miaro project with the goal of overcoming poverty and gaining economic empowerment through agricultural skills training.
Miaro Madagascar is a non-profit organization that provides support for women, people with disabilities, and underprivileged children in impoverished communities.
With the support of the Canada Fund for Local Initiatives, the sustainable development project in the municipality of Ambohijanaka broadens the experience and education of Malagasy women through organic agricultural work.
Malagasy women of all ages received a variety of training, including techniques for organic farming, safe hygiene practices, and childhood education as part of the project.
The diverse training aims to increase the skills of women farmers and inspire women to be actors in their own development. Through the promotion of gender equality and economic empowerment, the small community project hopes to improve the lives of women at work and inside the home.
"As a Malagasy woman, I believe that women in Madagascar need and must contribute to the development of our country. Because the economy is still very rooted in agriculture in many rural areas, this was the best door.
10 community development associations were set up with a collective vegetable garden and a small scale farm for training. A small kitchen laboratory was also created for the women to learn how to preserve food, create recipes, and develop products to be harvested, processed, and marketed. By selling products, this project helps strengthen the capacity of women in the economy to generate a sustainable income.
The women also support a public primary school by feeding three classes of students three times a week with their food. This ensures that local children benefit from one healthy meal a day. Their initiative fights primary school dropout rates and encourages mothers to send their children to school instead of taking them to the field.
Today, Rasoa has learned a trade and gained valuable knowledge and skills from the training programs. She is now part of a women’s association that works in agricultural development and brings home vegetables and crops to her family.
“We eat better. I have to go to the field every day and I am glad to be able to make some small plans for the future of my kids. My husband respects me more since I am contributing to family life. And the most important for me is that I feel useful for my family, for the [community] and for my new friends in the Women Association. This project changed my life".
Miaro Madagascar believes that by providing women with opportunities to work and develop their skills, they are enabled to create stronger relationships with their families and the communities.
The 200 newly-trained women Malagasy farmers have directly benefitted not only themselves but between 750-1000 families. These women continue to be the champions of their own development.
The Canada Fund for Local Initiatives (CFLI) provides funding for small projects developed and implemented by local organizations in developing countries around the world. Projects focus on: gender equality; the empowerment of women and girls; democratic governance; climate change and environmental sustainability, and security and stability. By responding directly to local needs, these modest contributions create a big impact in communities abroad.
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