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Key findings
  • More than eight in 10 Malagasy (82%) say the government is doing “fairly well” or “very well” in its efforts to promote women's rights and opportunities, a 15- percentage-point increase since 2018.
  • But a similarly large majority (78%) say it needs to do more to promote gender equality, including 58% who expect “much more.”
  • Citizens see unequal opportunities or pay in the workplace and a dearth of women in influential positions in government as the most important women’s-rights issues that their government and society must address.
  • Men are more likely than women to have secondary or post-secondary education (52% vs. 44%).
  • Two-thirds (66%) of Malagasy say men should be given priority in hiring. A majority (59%) of women support this form of gender discrimination.
  • Three-fourths (76%) of citizens endorse equal opportunities for men and women to be elected to public office, up from 62% in 2015.

Gender equality is not only a fundamental human right but also represents a key to achieving a more peaceful, prosperous, and healthy world (United Nations, 2022). Improving gender equality strengthens human capital and improves economic performance as women and girls gain greater access to education and the labour market, stimulating productivity, consumption, and innovation (Nguyen, 2021).

The Global Gender Gap Index 2023 ranks Madagascar 51st out of 146 countries (11th out of 36 in sub-Saharan Africa) in terms of gender parity in economic opportunity, education, health, and political leadership (World Economic Forum, 2023). That’s an improvement from 84th place in 2018.

But significant gaps still disadvantage women, who are paid 37% less than men, are 20% more likely than men to be unemployed, and as of 2021 made up only 17% of the National Assembly, 37% of ministers, 9% of governors, 5% of mayors, and 7% of communal and municipal councillors (Gaye, 2020; Ramiah, 2020; Republic of Madagascar, 2022). In the health sphere, World Bank (2024) experts say women and girls still face challenges in access to maternal, sexual, and reproductive health services, a deficit that can compromise their health and bears important implications for their educational and work trajectories.

This dispatch uses data from Afrobarometer’s 2022 survey to explore the experiences and perceptions of Malagasy people on the issue of gender equality.

In the eyes of respondents, the government is doing quite well in promoting women’s rights and opportunities, but most citizens want it to do more. Malagasy cite unequal opportunities or pay in the workplace and too few women in influential positions in government as the most pressing women’s-rights issues for the government and society to address.

But while a majority of citizens endorse gender equality in politics, most say men should have priority in hiring.

Ariel Astant Tianjoky

Ariel Astant Tianjoky is a consultant for COEF-Ressources, the Afrobarometer national partner in Madagascar.