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Empowering Women and Adolescent Girls in Madagascar to Alleviate Poverty

Malagasy women and girls in Madagascar face numerous challenges that hinder their ability to build human capital through education and health, participate in economic opportunities, and make decisions. A recent report by the World Bank titled “Unlocking the Potential of Women and Adolescent Girls in Madagascar” highlights the disparities faced by women and girls compared to men and boys in the country. Factors such as climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic further exacerbate their vulnerability to poverty, violence, and discrimination.

“Investing in the social and economic empowerment of women and adolescent girls can lead to sustainable economic growth in Madagascar. This is why the World Bank is supporting the country through initiatives like the East Africa Girls’ Empowerment and Resilience Regional Program (EAGER) and other programs aimed at promoting girls’ education, enhancing women’s productivity in the labor market, and implementing effective gender equality reforms,” stated Atou Seck, the World Bank Country Manager for Madagascar.

The report is a mixed-method study focusing on gender inequalities in Madagascar, particularly among adolescent girls. It explores factors and strategies that support young women in making decisions about education, employment, and family. The study combines survey data with qualitative insights gathered in Analamanga, Atsimo-Atsinanana, and Sofia through focus group discussions and individual interviews with various stakeholders.

While access to education is a challenge for all in Madagascar, girls face unique barriers. The report reveals high rates of illiteracy among adult women, with particularly alarming figures in the Menabe region. Malagasy women also encounter difficulties in accessing maternal and reproductive health services, leading to adverse effects on their health, education, and employment prospects. Additionally, early childbearing among adolescent girls further compounds these challenges.

The lack of investment in human capital limits women’s participation in the labor market in Madagascar. Women are less likely to engage in formal employment compared to men, with disparities in wages and job opportunities persisting. Intimate partner violence and child marriage further restrict women’s decision-making abilities and agency, highlighting the complex interplay of poverty, education, and social norms.

The report emphasizes the need to address underlying drivers of gender disparities in Madagascar, including patriarchal norms, limited access to services, vulnerability to shocks, and economic marginalization. To bridge existing gender gaps, the report outlines strategic directions to support girls and young women in education, improve access to healthcare, enhance economic opportunities, empower women and girls, and combat gender-based violence.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of The World Bank Group.

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