Antananarivo, Madagascar — Condoms will no longer be subject to government tax in Madagascar, President Andry Nirina Rajoelina announced at an event to mark the 50th anniversary of UNFPA, the 25th anniversary of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) and the launch of UNFPA's flagship report, State of World Population 2019.
This welcomed commitment promises better access to contraceptives and is the first step towards tax-free advocacy for contraceptives.
"We will spare no effort to make the dream, the vision of the ICPD in Cairo, a reality for the development and emergence of Madagascar," President Rajoelina said.
First Lady Mialy Rajoelina received recognition from UNFPA for her role in championing the fight against gender-based violence at the event, and was awarded a distinction of honour and excellence for her commitment to ensuring rights and choices for all, especially women and girls, at the event.
"I will devote all my energy to breaking the silence, to breaking those chains that lead to the break-up of this prison that isolates - violence," the First Lady announced. "I will give the floor to those who have the courage to say a word, to denounce this reality and I will speak for those who are tired, who can no longer find the words because the pain is so persistent."
UNFPA partners with the Government of Madagascar to accelerate achievement of the promises of the ICPD. "Fighting for women's empowerment and ending gender-based violence is not an option. It is an obligation, a duty, a priority," said Constant-Serge Bounda, the Resident Representative for UNFPA Madagascar.
Maternal death and gender-based violence persist
Madagascar counts among the African countries with extensive challenges in terms of reproductive health and rights.
With a population of 27 million (2019), ten women die every day as a result of complications of pregnancy and childbirth, three of whom are adolescents under 19 years old. For every 100,000 live births, 353 women die due to complications of pregnancy and childbirth (2015), compared to 12 deaths per 100,000 live births in more developed regions (2015, State of World Population 2019).
One in three women has experienced some type of violence in her lifetime and almost 45 per cent of women consider domestic violence normal.
On a positive note, the contraceptive prevalence rate (women aged 15 to 49 years who are using a modern contraceptive method) is showing good progress, with a steady increase recorded from 33 per cent in 2012 to 41 per cent in 2019. The CPR for more developed regions was 61 per cent in 2019 (SWOP 2019).
While there is progress in Madagascar, these data confirm that there remains unfinished business in the pursuit of rights and choices for all, especially the rights of women and girls to be fully informed in order to exercise choice in their sexual and reproductive health.
It's time to raise the bar
The pursuit of rights and choices for all is one of the cornerstones for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
For the past 50 years, UNFPA has worked to ensure reproductive health rights and choices for all and the achievement of three transformative goals of zero maternal deaths, zero unmet need for family planning and zero gender-based violence and harmful practices. In East and Southern Africa, UNFPA also works to ensure zero sexual transmission of HIV.
The commemorative event to mark the double anniversaries and the launch of the SWOP report saw the involvement of the island state's highest authorities, from the President and First Lady to ministers, ambassadors, and representatives of international organizations and the private and investment sectors.
- Hantanirina Andremanisa