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Salama.

My name is Olivia.
I document my adventures in Madagascar as a Peace Corps Volunteer, with the mission to share culture and empower others through my writing.
Enjoy! 

“Our Village Would Fall Apart Without Us”: 23 Young Malagasy Women Talk Female Roles

“Our Village Would Fall Apart Without Us”: 23 Young Malagasy Women Talk Female Roles

Women are far from having equal rights as men in Malagasy society. But without women, the men are in big trouble, according to a group of young Malagasy girls living in southern Madagascar. From teenage pregnancy to sexism, they shared their dreams and thoughts about the future of women in their country.

Name: Haingotiana Natolonjanahary Clarisse, but her friends just call her Haingotiana

Age: 13

Q: What would you say to someone who told you that you couldn’t do something because you were a girl?

A: I would explain that it is important for women and men to work together as one team. Madagascar will become a developed country when that happens.

Q: What frustrates you about being a girl?

A: Girls can become pregnant. It is very common here for girls to get pregnant when they are very young. Too young! A lot of the times having a baby means girls stop going to school and they cannot reach their goals.

Name: Soloe

Age: 15

Q: If all the girls and women left from your village for a day, what would happen?

A: If all of the girls left our village, the men would miss us, because there would be no cooked meals!

Q: What do you want to be when you grow up?

A: I want to be a doctor because I want to help the people in my community stay healthy.

Name: Jeannine

Age: 15

Q: What are your goals?

A: I want to be a teacher when I get older because I want to help students become really good at communicating in Malagasy and sharing their ideas. My parents encourage me to go to school and study hard. I want to do the same for my children and others’, as a teacher.

Name: Marovavy (Her mom gave her this name meaning, many girls, after giving birth to her fifth girl!)

Age: 13

Q: What is something great about girls?

A: Girls have good ideas. We should work together with the boys. When girls are not allowed to work with boys, then our country cannot grow.

Name: Vaha Sahirantsoa

Age: 14

Q: If all of the girls and women left our village for a day, what would happen?

A: All the men would start fighting because there would be no food. They would travel to another village to look for food.

Q: What do you want to be when you grow up?

A: I want to be a doctor and help cure people when they are sick.

Name: Vola

Age: 13

Q: What do you want to be when you grow up?

A: I want to be a doctor because being healthy is very important. Also, as a doctor I will have money to support my family.

Name: Kazy Anjarameie

Age: 14

Q: If all of the girls and women left our village for a day, what would happen?

A: There would be no one to take care of things, like cooking and keeping the house organized. If women weren’t here, things would fall apart! Our village would be worse-off without women.

Name: Natolonjanahary Florine

Age: 14

Q: What do you want to be when you grow up?

A: I want to be a police officer because there aren’t enough women police officers here in Madagascar.

Q: What’s your favorite thing about being a girl?

A: We have good ideas and can help improve Madagascar.

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Name: Soa

Age: 19

Q: What do you want to be when you grow up?

A: I want to be an English teacher because the English language is important in the development of our country.

Q: If all of the girls and women left our village for a day, what would happen?

A: All the men would sit around and dilly-dally. Nothing would get done.

Name: Eliane

Age: 16

Q: What are your goals?

A: I want to be a teacher. And I want to become good at the things I love to do.

Name: Vero

Age: 12

Q: If all of the girls and women left our village for a day, what would happen?

A: The boys would go looking for them because without us, there would be no one to cook, no one to do all the important things!

Q: What do you want to do when you grow up?

A: I want to get a job as a teacher. It is important to have money to support yourself.

Name: Claudia

Age: 14

Q: What do you want to be when you grow up?

A: I want to be an English teacher. It is important for Malagasy students to learn English because if the students can speak it very well, soon the whole country will be, too. And Madagascar will be very proud as a country.

Name: Fatima

Age: 14

Q; What do you want to be when you grow up?

A: I want to be the head of the police so when I get older I can support my parents and my family. But before that, my goal is to finish my studies and receive my high school diploma.

Name: Rahasoanomey Lovasoa Azura, friends just call her Lovasoa (meaning: good inheritance)

Age: 26

She is a teacher, a seamstress, President of a women’s club in the village, and styles hair in order to support herself, her family and her community.

Q: What is your favorite thing about being a girl?

A: Girls are the ‘flowers’ of every household and this country. By that, I mean that women are vital to Madagascar — we are a symbol of life and growth. We all come from women — they birthed us! Women are very powerful. Plus, women are very open-minded and can give good advice and helpful ideas to others, when needed.

Q: What do you want to be when you get older?

A: I am still very young, but I choose to be a teacher. I want to educate the minds of the youth about ways to develop our community and the world.

Q: What are your goals?

A: My goal, as a teacher, is to educate and inspire my students to achieve big things and continue learning and learning forever. I hope for their knowledge will surpass mine.

Name: Ndrasana Floridah

Age: 15

Q; What is your favorite thing about being a girl?

A: Girls keep this country together — women have a lot of responsibilities here.

Q: What do you want to be when you grow up?

A: I want to be a midwife. I want to support my parents and my entire family in the future.

Name: Rasoa Sailambo Soasinaotse, but friends just call her, Rasoa (meaning good blood)

Age: 13

Q: What do you want to be when you grow up?

A: I want to be a doctor so I can help the sick and teach others how to be healthy. I also want a job to support myself and my family. Every morning, I wake up at 5 a.m. to work in the field with my little sister. We work for four hours and then go to the middle school to study. I work in the field to support my family now, but I continue to study, so that I can support my family in the future, while helping others.

Name: Soamihaja Kristophine Zuldia

Age: 13

Q: If someone told you that you couldn’t do something because you are a girl, what would you tell them?

A: I would tell them, girls have rights, too! We have the right to do everything boys have rights to and by us working together, we can develop Madagascar.

Name: Rasoanandrasana Elvine, but friends just call her Elvine

Age: 13

Q: If someone told you that you couldn’t do something because you are a girl, what would you tell them?

A: I would tell them: Sorry, you can’t talk to me right now, I am busy working.

Q: If all of the girls and women left our village for a day, what would happen?

A: The boys would be very hungry and very sad. Boys and men must learn how to cook.

Q: If you could change something about this world, what would it be?

A: I would elect a girl as the President of Madagascar.

Name: Marovavy

Age: 14

Q: If all of the girls and women left our village for a day, what would happen?

A: The boys would have to learn to cook. At first, they would be very hungry, though.

Name: Elisette

Age: 14

Q: What are your goals?

A: I want to advise girls that they should wait to get pregnant or get married when they are still very young. They should wait until they are at least 18 years old. Education comes first.

Name: Rasoarivony

Age: 15

Q: If someone told you that you couldn’t do something because you are a girl, what would you tell them?

A: That’s not okay! I would explain to them that girls bring a lot of good ideas and that they must get used to men and women working together.

Q: What do you want to be when you grow up?

A: I want to become the President of Madagascar. My goal is to help develop our country. I want to make the world proud of our accomplishments.

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Name: Odette, or as her friends call her, Papoke

Age: 8

Odette lives with her grandma and older sister, Arline. But, Malagasy families are very big, she said, so there are always other family members sleeping at her house and helping each other.

Q: What’s your favorite thing about being a girl?

A: Girls are wonderful and girls are nice. My teacher, Madam Lilike, is really nice. She doesn’t pull my ear when I talk too much in class. She just tells me to be quiet. When I grow up, I want to be a teacher because going to school is very important for all kids, boys and girls.

Name: Antra

Age: 12

Q: If someone told you that you couldn’t do something because you are a girl, what would you tell them?

A: For example, if someone told me that I cannot go to school, I would tell them that it is our right to learn. Girls must study so that they can eventually find a job and support themselves.

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On Celebrating Others

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