Maria Raharinarivonirina, recipient of the Internet Users prize

The Orange Foundation has selected and honoured five women from Senegal, Madagascar, Mauritius and Tunisia with the Women for Change awards.

The Women for Change prize, co-founded by the Orange Foundation, the Women’s Forum and Marie-Claire magazine in support of women’s humanitarian projects in Africa, went to Maria Raharinarivonirina.

Maria, who won 32% of the vote, received € 25,000 from the Orange Foundation to put her project into practice.

Maria Raharinarivonirina tells us about the lives of women in her home country of Madagascar, what inspired her to put together and present her project, and how it will become a reality thanks to the Orange Foundation’s financial support.
The Orange Foundation, which believes that women are central to making sustainable social changes, is supporting and following this project as it does many other healthcare and education programmes in Africa.

the project: SOS Village d’enfants de Madagascar & Women’s Centre

SOS Village d’enfants de Madagascar (SOS Children’s Village of Madagascar), an officially recognised charity, has been caring for orphans and abandoned children since 1988. The children are given a new family, an education, and professional training.

Women play a key role in the organisation: they serve as SOS mothers, taking on responsibility for raising these children.
This explains how the charity has been able to create 450 permanent positions, 279 of them held by women.
In southern Madagascar, where a traditional zebu-based culture holds sway, over 77% of rural families live below the poverty line, making the region the country’s poorest.

Southern Madagascan society is extremely hierarchical: descendants of noble families, the elderly, leaders, warriors and zebu- or landowners hold a privileged place in the community. During fokonolona meetings, where major decisions are made, they are believed to embody the will of the community’s ancestors.
Zebu, which are spiritual symbols and not simply economic resources which can be turned into capital, are the cornerstone of social relations. The lot of women in this society is extremely difficult.
Because they are viewed solely as the means of procreating and carrying on the male line, women do not receive an education.
It is this situation that led Maria Raharinarivonirina to help women to become independent.

She aims to help women in six villages fight sexism and violence and understand their rights, and to provide economic opportunities through job creation, support for women entrepreneurs, and access to credit by building and running women’s centres.
This programme will improve women’s legal status and rights in southern Madagascar, particularly in terms of education, property ownership, and inheritance rights.

The expenses planned (building centres in Ambovombe, Bekily and Ampanihy, purchasing solar panels, furnishings, IT equipment, raw materials and farm animals, etc.) total € 27,430.
The Orange Foundation’s donation will be used to build three new women’s centres and improve the lives of 810 women.

810 women who will benefit from literacy training, increased awareness of their rights, job training and a chance to learn about information and communication technologies.


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