Photo credits : Dramane Sessouma/AEA

On the occasion of the International Women’s Rights Day (8 March), Action Education is giving a voice to three young mothers who have dropped out of school. In Madagascar, they talk about the socio-professional training they are following with Action Education. This is a unique opportunity for them to turn the page, to find a job and to integrate into a society that, for the time being, rejects them because of their early pregnancy. 

In Madagascar, one third of young girls between 15 and 19 have a child and find themselves excluded from the rest of society, stigmatised and unemployed. “Before I discovered the Action Education project, I had no income. I was just trying to earn enough to feed my child and myself. I don’t have a life like others because my child’s father abandoned us and I had to support ourselves at a very young age by any means. I did all the odd jobs I could, like fetching water, carrying building stones or carrying bricks,” explains Erica, who is just 25 years old. Since last December, she is one of the 300 young mothers who are following the first training offered by Action Education in Madagascar in partnership with the Ministry of Youth and Sports within the framework of “Sandratra”. 

Stigmatized and excluded young mothers

This 3-year program is led by our association with the French Development Agency in order to offer 900 young Madagascans psychosocial support. This will enable them to regain confidence and employment. The project also aims to change mentalities and is developing awareness-raising activities on early parenthood and campaigns to improve the image and representation of young mothers.  

Training and changing attitudes

The first training focused on the development of ‘life skills’. It helped young single mothers to improve their self-image, to strengthen their self-esteem and, above all, to have the moral resources necessary to face daily life.  “We are trained in life skills, which allows us to acquire knowledge, learn about sharing, living together and community life. I have already put these skills into practice and I have changed. I am more careful with the money I earn and I save,” Nirina insists.  A change in behaviour confirmed by Erica. “We learn from what we study. We see other things and we are more open-minded. It has opened my eyes to other aspects of life, and I have been able to correct my shortcomings. I have learned to talk more, especially in case of conflict. If someone makes fun of me, I am more forgiving and calm because I learned to control my emotions better during the training. These behaviours I also pass on to my child, which is important. The Sandratra project has given a glimmer of hope to these young single mothers. “We have learned to keep our spirits up, to stay optimistic, to have goals and to stick to them. Even if you start at the bottom, one day you will be at the top. (…) I would like to become a seamstress and then open my own tailor shop,” says Christiana. “I dream of having a permanent job, being a civil servant for example, so that I don’t have to depend on anyone,” concludes Nirina.

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Watch our video about the Sandratra project: