Together, we support Malagasy children to forge their own pathway in life

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Mamitiana Naharifelantsoa, Blog4Dev Madagascar winner Mamitiana Naharifelantsoa, Blog4Dev Madagascar winner

They said that they just wanted to enjoy their childhood, that they needed support to reach their full potential, that when they grow up they would like to be a doctor, a teacher… However, their life took a completely different direction. They were married off and became parents when they were not even 18. They had no say in such a decision that will affect their future and their country’s socio-economic development. They were deprived of their rights. Their dreams had been broken...  

This is the story of nearly 41.2% of Malagasy girls and 13% of boys aged 20 to 24. Despite the fact that the government changed the legal minimum age of marriage to 18 in 2007, child marriage is still practiced in various forms depending on the communities: there is “moletry,” the payment of a bride price, or “tsenan’ampela,” a girls’ market for prostitution. But there is still hope.  

Ending child marriage is possible when families, schools, society and the government work in synergy  

If both consider girls as a blessing and a powerful agent of change not a burden, if they are aware that marrying them is neither the solution to secure their future nor the alternative to control their sexuality and reproduction, this harmful practice will not have its place in our society. If they can see the stars that shine in the eyes of children when they are talking about their dreams, they will encourage them to study instead of marrying. If they are conscious that children who express opinions and make their own choice do not mean that they disrespect, they will push them to take initiatives. 

For change to happen, holding dialogues with the religious and traditional leaders to raise awareness of the harmful effects of child marriage and to shift norms around the status of girls is a critical strategy as they play a major role in influencing their communities. 

Encouraging and supporting parents to send their children to school is also primordial. Making schools accessible and getting children want to stay longer by providing them with an appropriate environment, which improves their learning outcomes while responding to their needs to have fun should be a priority for the government. Being an educational space having an influence in the ways of thinking of children, school should not just prepare them for working life but especially for the « real world » by giving them access to sexual and reproductive health, citizenship, human rights and financial education programs. 

The civil society also plays a key role by implementing actions having direct or indirect impacts on ending child marriage. The Liberty 32 association through its «i-beazana» program (a civic education, peace education and leadership program for vulnerable children) equips children with the skills to fully participate in public life and speak out for their rights. Children are seen as changemakers. 

Together, we can create change.


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