Madagascar is the fourth biggest island on earth located in the southeast of Africa in the Indian Ocean. It is now the third time that Madagascar is elected as the best green destination of the Indian Ocean by the 26th World Travel Awards 2019. The island detains the world’s most rare baobab species called Adansonia Perrieri and shelters the world’s biggest lemurian called Indri-indri. In contrary to the famous cartoon “Madagascar”, the country doesn’t have lions, giraffes or zebras. Despite its natural wealth, the beautiful island remains economically disadvantaged. Formerly French-colonized country, its economy remains dependent on foreign countries. Perhaps this modern colonization affects some trend in the country. A few years ago, the technology or fashion trend that Malagasy people followed came generally from European countries. But now, the internet has allowed people to keep in touch with other tendencies from countries all over the world. Generally, this is a good thing.
The debates about gender in Madagascar began in 1997, when German and Swiss people gave training to some Malagasy non-governmental organizations (NGOs). Since then, there was a law issued stating that all projects held in Madagascar should consider gender. Most of Malagasy people are not aware of the gender concept. And when we talk about the role of the civil society organizations (CSOs) in terms of gender promotion, it is amazing as these work for human rights promotion, and address violence and women’s protection. CSOs members are playing a huge role in these advancing these issues in comparison to the state. The numbers of associations doesn’t cease to grow but only a few are legally registered. The “big” NGOs are mainly those related to international NGOs that have local offices in Madagascar. The “little” CSOs members are formed with community-based organizations that want to improve their respective community, and the results are tangible.
Most of CSOs members, headed by the big NGOs, are feminists. That is generally good but we all know that everyone has his or her own interpretation of feminism. One of the key topics that is starting to take place in heart of discussions in the capital of Madagascar, is abortion. Abortion is usually included in the efforts of the NGOs under sexual and reproductive health. In Madagascar, the debate and persuasion concerning abortion are typically in progress only between CSOs members.
The Malagasy law states that abortion is illegal. And in general, Malagasy people are reticent about the legalization of abortion. Most of Malagasy people are Christians, therefore, rejecting the idea of abortion.
However, only a few CSOs members are fighting for life promotion, opposing abortion as a right. Since churches are present in each city throughout the country, Christian associations are surely defending life, but do not directly tackle abortion issues. Madagascar encounters thousands of illegal abortion reported each year, and I believe that churches should specifically deal with this matter as well, apart from spreading the Light of the world in general. Happily, there is a recent initiative called “Christian coalition movement” that aims to raise Madagascar’s political, economic and social situation through Christians’ engagement. We hope that there will be a specific branch that deals with life issues in the context of Madagascar.
Malagasy people need more clarifications about discussions that they may encounter concerning gender, feminism, and especially the issue of defending the unborn. Usually when Malagasy people discuss abortion rights, some are see it as a social justice issue, while other are confused about what abortion really is, is it protecting or killing?
As a pro-life defender, we should spread love, share the good and right news and be the change we want to see.