As part of International Girls’ Day, 10 teenage girls recounted their struggles with regard to the stereotypes, complexes and injustices they have had to endure and still have to endure in today’s Malagasy society. A “talk session on the theme “Ampela Unstoppable”, which aims not only to inspire Malagasy teenagers and girls, but also to fight against stereotypes and barriers that society places in front of Malagasy women and girls.
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Against stereotypes and injustices
“Ampela Unstoppable”. This was the topic of the talks session that took place on Friday, October 11 in Andrainarivo, as part of the celebration of International Girls’ Day.
Established in Madagascar in 2011 under the leadership of the Ministry of Youth and Sports (MJS) in partnership with UNICEF and UNFPA, this day is an opportunity to recognize, promote and defend the rights of adolescent girls and young women who will become women in the future.
This year, it was marked by the “Ampela Unstoppable” event, which brought together 10 teenage girls who shared their stories and struggles against the stereotypes they have had to endure and still have to endure in Malagasy society. Coming from different backgrounds and having experienced different situations, aged 15 to 18, these young girls shared a common point: they demonstrated strength and resilience in the face of dangerous situations where they have been victims of abuse, violence, judgment, persecution and rejection.
This was the case with Finaritra, a young teenager persecuted since childhood by her family, friends, relatives, and even teachers, for her height and weight, and who is now one of the best tennis players on the Big Island.
This is also the case for Tanjona, judged and persecuted because she is part of the 2000 generation.
“But who among you, adults here present, are proud of this Madagascar of today, which your youth has made?”, she said during her speech, with a hard look.
Young but dynamic and courageous, these adolescents have shown that despite the persecutions, hardships, physical, family and social conditions with which they have been confronted, will and determination represent the strength and driving force for success.
A message they wish to convey to all young girls, but also to Malagasy women who are currently facing many difficulties.
“I participated in this sharing session because I wanted to show young girls that even if you are small, even if you are a girl, you can be strong and you can succeed in everything you do,” said Finaritra.
A determination that nothing can stop.
The 10 young girls who participated in the “Ampela Unstoppable” event demonstrated their strength during the event, but also during the entire preparation of the event.
Indeed, they had about a week to prepare their intervention, while some of them never spoke in public in their lives.
“They did most of the work, we were just there to help them perfect what they had already done. We have really noticed an evolution. At first, they were little caterpillars curled up on themselves, they were ashamed. But then they listened, they helped each other. The result we had today even exceeded the one we had at the dress rehearsal,” said Julie and Rosie, the volunteers from TedX Youth Antananarivo who coached the workers.
The “Ampela Unstoppable” event is in its first edition. It was organized as part of International Girls’ Day and highlighted “strong, unstoppable and non-stereotypical girls”, the theme of the celebration co-organized by UNICEF and UNFPA in collaboration with the TEDX Antananarivo platform.
The girls were selected following a call for applications made by Unicef and Unfpa on social networks.
“We have received applications. The girls had to be selected according to their stories, their experiences, but also their passion,” explained Tim Irwin, Media Head of External Relations at Unicef Madagascar.
This TEDx is an opportunity to celebrate those young girls who have dared to overcome all these obstacles and dared to say out loud what adults whisper or do not say and to inspire other girls, women and young people in Madagascar to dare to move forward.
“These young girls have shown resilience and a great capacity to surpass themselves. When you push them, they can do incredible things,” added Hanta Andremanisa, UNFPA’s Communications Officer.
Inventory of the situation
Today, 65% of the Malagasy population, which has about 22 million inhabitants, is represented by young people. 32.7% of this portion is made up of girls under 25 years of age, or more than 8 million people.
In Madagascar, girls face several obstacles in society, limiting their opportunities for their full development, particularly in terms of access to decision-making, access to health, early marriage and pregnancy, access to education and various types of violence (rape, harassment, etc.).
Many actors in public and private institutions take action to promote women’s rights and facilitate their position in Malagasy society, but these actions also encounter many societal, religious and cultural barriers.