2011 marks the 100th year that International Women’s Day has been celebrated across the world – over the years it has grown in its strength and participation and is now a national holiday in 25 different countries, ranging from: Zambia, Vietnam and Russia. In Madagascar it is also a national holiday and certaintly doesn’t go unnoticed. I had a great chance to see how it is celebrated here on the island.
Three colleagues and myself travelled up to a small town called Isorana, about 20 km outside of Fianarantsoa (Madagascar’s second largest city). Here there was to be a two day celebration to mark the day. Amongst other organisations Ny Tanintsika (the partner of Feedback Madagascar) were asked to attend and join the parade on the day, and to enjoy the other festivities taking place in Isorana.
On the first morning we walked 10km to the spot where we would carry out a reforestation programme – which involved planting fruit trees to represent the life of the woman. Like the forest in Madagascar this symbolisation is significant in showing the many ways women contribute to life on the island. Throughout the morning I watched as men and women from various organisations and communities came to take part in the reforestation. It was a lovely experience to see the thought and effort that went into the day. In the afternoon we listened to various representatives speak on reducing the pressures of women in Madagascar, followed by a big celebration involving a competition with traditional Betsileo (the highland ethnic group) music and dancing.
The march on the day itself led us from a little further downhill to Isorana centre where we followed other NGOs. A huge crowd has gathered at the top of the hill to watch and join in the celebration.
Photo 1: The parade walking up to the centre of Isorana. [Photo credit: Charlotte Broyd]