The great island in the Indian Ocean covers an area of 590,000 sq. km. Estimated at more than twenty-two million inhabitants in 2012, the Malagasy population is characterized by a very low average age: nearly two-thirds of the population are younger than twenty-five (64 %) and almost half of them are younger than fifteen (47 %). The gender proportion is 98.8 men for every 100 women. The majority of the population lives in rural areas (83%), while in urban areas there are more women than men (93 men for every 100 women).
Even though the Red Island is internationally known for its beaches and its exceptional flora and fauna, the country still remains, one of the least developed countries in the world.
In particular, the situation has been exacerbated by the political crisis of 2009. After months of riot in the country, a transitional regime, which is not recognized by the international community, was established, and for this reason, all the big lenders closed all their grants for the country. The five-year political crisis had serious effects on the economic and social situation in the country. The economic growth has stopped, the per capita income has decreased back to 2003 levels, there was a sharp increase in poverty, the social services worsened, infrastructures decayed and the governance system got progressively weaker.
The gravity of the situation is reflected in the fact that the country moved back on the Human Development Index (HDI). Madagascar moved from 149th place in 2010 to 151st in 2012.
Very low average age.
One of the least developed countries in the world.
Serious effects of the 2009’s political crisis on the economic and social situation.
Gravity of the situation
Historically, even if it couldn’t be considered completely egalitarian, the Malagasy society has always accorded to women a better status and role compared to many other African countries. For example, key elements of autonomy and equality between sexes, such as the equal access to education for girls, are promoted at both legal and social level.
The issue of education has always be more related to socio-economic and geographical terms instead of terms of gender. In fact, within the same geographical area, boys and girls have the same opportunities; the real difficulties are due to the lack of infrastructure in rural areas.
Inside the family, women are at the ones that take all the decisions concerning the management and survival of the family. They are engaged in various economic activities, and often, in the poorest areas of the country, they are the only source of support for the family. On legal and political level, women rights are officially ratified by the Malagasy Constitution, which recognizes the equal rights for all citizens, without gender discrimination.
Moreover, in 1988, the Government of Madagascar has ratified the “Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women”.
Despite this formal equality, things are definitely different in real life. As a result of the crisis that has hit the country in 2009, women, especially those who live in rural areas, suffer the most due to the negative effects of the socio-economic problems: often, their conditions prevent them from becoming effective players in the developing process of their community.
They hardly have access to the necessary resources to fully realize their potential, they are not included in the highest levels of government and they are increasingly marginalized from the circuits of the productive economy. The most direct consequence of this situation is the social and economic insecurity of Malagasy women, especially those living in rural areas, which is reflected within the entire Madagascar social fabric.