International Conference on “Ending sexual and gender based violence in humanitarian crises”

Statement of

Mrs Mialy Rajoelina
President of FITIA,
First Lady of Madagasca
UNFPA Champion for GBV

Civil society segment
Theme: From the grassroots to Government

Oslo, May 23, 2019

 

HONOURABLE ASSISTANCE,
Ladies and gentlemen,
Dear Friends from Civil Society

First of all, allow me to extend my warm greetings to the Government of Norway which has a long working tradition with civil society organizations.

Allow me also to emphasize that Norway is one of the greatest supporters worldwide of Civil society organizations around the world.

It is with great humility that I stand in front of you today, addressing this important gathering. This session “from grassroots to government” speaks to my personal journey as both a founder of a civil society organization called FITIA and as First Lady of Madagascar.

Following the terrible devastating cyclone in Madagascar in 2010 ; I created FITIA; « FITIA means LOVE ». a nonpolitical, non-profit charitable association FITIA was created to support vulnerable people, to restore their dignity as well as to ensure that their human rights are respected. One of the focuses of FITIA is to provide innovative strategies for combating sexual gender-based violence, including in humanitarian settings.

My mission and transformative work on the fields on GBV have recently expanded in line with my new responsibilities as UNFPA Ambassador for the fight against gender-based violence and Honorary President of the Malagasy Red Cross.

 

I have officially renewed my commitment to « Break the silence” during the celebration of the International Women’s
Day and during the dual celebration of UNFPA’s 50th anniversary.

This is perfectly in line with my recent assignment as UNFPA’s Ambassador for the fight against gender-based violence and child marriage. Our common endeavor as grassroots and governments is to eliminate GBV by 2030 to effectively contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and to build the Africa we want as stated in Agenda 2063.

Together as Civil society we cannot be associated with any failure concerning GBV and any other violations of human rights, including the rights of LGBTs.

Our voice should be the ignition key to stop these global and unacceptable trends towards more discrimination, more inequalities and more suffering which also affects 1 out of 3 people facing GBV.

 

Ladies and Gentlemen,

As a civil society activist, I have noticed on the ground how a significant number of women and adolescent girls are confronted with several forms of violence, which limit their development, including psychological, physical and sexual violence. All forms of violence, whatever their form, are intolerable. They are a violation of human rights.
Unfortunately, mainly in Africa, their prevalence is high especially in humanitarian settings.

For my country Madagascar, it means stopping the burden of 30% of the population which suffers directly from SGBV.

Did you know that 30% of Malagasy women reported that they have experienced at least one type of gender-based violence? No social category is spared. The victims are women and girls from urban and rural areas in all regions of Madagascar, educated and illiterate women, employed or civil servant women, women entrepreneurs or housewives. But there are also men and boys. And half of the violence takes place within the family circle.

More than 55% of women have experienced violence from the age of 15. Sexual assault accounts for 44% of the cases.
Despite the fact that the legal age of marriage is 18, there is an alarming increase in early marriages in Madagascar. The frequency is among the highest in the world. This is not anymore acceptable and should stop.

 

Dear friends,

I am truly grateful that events like the one we are experiencing today exist. In fact, it allows us to exchange ideas on how to move forward to solve problems.
As a civil society activist, I have always been sensitive and have always considered great importance to human dignity, human rights, civic responsibility, the health of women and children, education, the precariousness of life of vulnerable people and the preservation of the environment.
To keep recommitting and to even pay more attention to the survivors, as GBV champion keeping my roots as CSO and having the opportunity as First Lady to advocate the government, with the support of UNFPA I have been able to:

  • raise awareness on the fight against GBV by working
  • with survivors and perpetrators.
  • strengthen the capacity of police forces to handle genderbased cases, including advocacy in expanding those special units across Madagascar.
  • providing support for the economic and social reintegration of these victims.
  • negotiating with the Government for the adoption of a law to fight GBV, following a couple of important meetings I had with the Ministers of Justice, Internal Security and Population.
  • establishing a structure for the care and support of survivors,
  • extending the intervention zones of the local women’s brigade specialized on GBV into the national territory,
  • implementing fast track criminal courts specialized in GBV cases that encourage women to express themselves and denounce.

There is much to learn from each other in the fight against sexual and gender-based violence. We would welcome all forms of partnerships from capacity building, exchanges of best practices to possible financial support.
Once again, my sincere thanks to all of you. Our involvement and engagement for this cause reaffirms our common desire to save human lives.

Together we can!
Let us dare to speak with one voice:

Oui à la bienveillance! Non à la violence !

Thank you for your attention.