Today, March 8th, is International Women’s Day 2016 or #IWD2016 – a celebration of the social, economic, cultural and political achievement of women. IWD also aims to highlight the fact that progress has slowed in many places across the world and urges action to accelerate gender parity.

We proudly support the IWD and pledge to:

  • help women and girls achieve their ambitions
  • challenge conscious and unconscious bias
  • call for gender-balanced leadership
  • value women and men’s contributions equally
  • create inclusive, flexible cultures

We are lucky to work with incredible women both at the heart of the communities in which we’re based, and at all levels of our own organisation. This International Women’s Day we would like to share with you some brief thoughts from 6 of our staff working in Madagascar.


Tinah Pic

Tinah Martin

Where do you live? Toliara
Where are you from originally? Antananarivo
How long have you been working with BV? 2 years

What is the best bit about your role? I am involved in a great team where I learn about many things, and I am the only woman in the team!

What excites you most about working for a conservation organisation? Challenges come up in every shape, and facing them to reach our goals is at the same time an exciting and enriching experience (professionally and personally).

What is your biggest fear? Not giving enough to reach our goals.

What is the greatest challenge you face in your work? The project has run a literacy training in different villages, nobody would believe that in 3 weeks illiterate person could read or write. But after three weeks encouraging the participant and helping them, I witnessed the success of the teamwork: a old woman was able to read pages of our octopus comic and she was able to write her name in the three weeks of training. She made me think : “Never late to start something good in your life!”

Tell us one thing that people don’t know about you or wouldn’t expect about you? I practised judo during high school!


 

MIHARI

Vatosoa Rakotondrazafy

Where do you live? Ankadidramamy – Antananarivo
Where are you from originally? Antsirabe
How long have you been working with BV? 1 year and 1 month with the MIHARI project

What is the best bit about your role? Representing the voices of all coastal communities managing LMMA (Locally Managed Marine Areas) in Madagascar.

What excites you most about working for a conservation organisation? To contribute to the conservation of Madagascar’s marine resources

What is your biggest fear? Mice!  But in my work I worry about being unable to meet communities’ expectations as some of their needs are outside of the scope of MIHARI’s work.

What is the greatest challenge you face in your work? I work for communities all over Madagascar but I have struggles with some dialects, such as Vezo.

Tell us one thing that people don’t know about you or wouldn’t expect about you? I like singing and I am a member of a band in Antananarivo. We have some video on youtube : )



Liz

Liz Day

Where do you live? Andavadoaka
Where are you from originally?
UK and France
How long have you been working with BV?
1 year

What is the best bit about your role? Working with a team of extremely passionate people.

What excites you most about working for a conservation organisation? Our values are aligned.

What is your biggest fear? I lead a pretty peaceful and fearless life.

What is the greatest challenge you face in your work? Being patient!

Tell us one thing that people don’t know about you or wouldn’t expect about you? I recently got into romantic comedies because of (BV colleague) Hannah Gilchrist!


Lalao

Lalao Aigrette

Where do you live? Toliara, Madagascar
Where are you from originally? Fianarantsoa, Madagascar
How long have you been working with BV? 8 years

What is the best bit about your role? I am running a community-led mangrove carbon project in Bay of Assassins within the LMMA Velondriake, Southwest Madagascar. The project aimed to generate sustainable financing through carbon credit credit which can be used to fund and incentivize community-led mangrove management within the LMMA.

What excites you most about working for a conservation organisation? As I have a degree in marine science, applying my knowledge from the University to my daily work excites me most about working for BV. Also, thanks to the international training and conferences that I attend, I can build my capacity and improve my skills in different areas.

What is the greatest challenge you face in your work? The biggest challenges is working with communities who have limited levels of education as this sometime affects the timeframe of the project.

Tell us one thing that people don’t know about you or wouldn’t expect about you? I really like avocado with honey 🙂


feno

Feno Hanitriniala

Where do you live? Andavadoaka
Where are you from originally? Antananarivo
How long have you been working with BV? 4 months

What is the best bit about your role? I am the Schools Scholarships Officer of the Education and Outreach Program in Andavadoake and I am mainly in charge of administering scholarships, students’ and parents’ data, planning activities and preparing curriculums for some courses. I enjoy empowering young people and particularly in leading the girls’ club of Andavadoake. I feel fortunate to be given the opportunity to give advice, to guide and to mentor Malagasy young girls as I was once like them.

What excites you most about working for a conservation organisation? I only opened my eyes on the environmental issues Madagascar is facing when I volunteered for WWF last year. Taking part in protecting what is left from our riches is invaluable for me. I like working in both sides of conservation: answering the needs of those who depend on those riches and protecting them as well. I think it is a win-win strategy.

What is your biggest fear? Currently, women are encouraged to give their voices and contribute to the development, to the management of health and marine resources. I know that some NGOs and the Government itself are promoting women’s engagement in every field of work, but my biggest fear would be to see women in this same situation after ten or twenty years.

What is the greatest challenge you face in your work? The greatest challenge and I think it is a common challenge not only for me but for all Malagasy citizens is how to keep the current biodiversity intact for the sake of our country and the environment.


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Leah Glass

Where do you live: Ambanja, NW Madagascar
Where are you from originally: Cornwall, UK
How long have you been working with BV: 2.5 years

Best bit about your role: The people I work with; both BV staff members and local community partners. Working in Madagascar can be simultaneously both challenging and rewarding. If I didn’t work with such amazing, inspiring people, the challenges would be much harder to contend with.

What excites you most about working for a conservation organisation?: Two main reasons. Firstly, leading on from my previous answer, the team spirit. Working for BV is like being part of a big, awesome family! Secondly, believing in what we do. As in many similar countries, things virtually never go to plan in Madagascar and from a project manager’s perspective this can be pretty frustrating. But it doesn’t really matter if you truly believe in the mission you’re working towards and know local community partners do too.

Biggest fear: Crabs!! I have a totally irrational fear of crabs. Given I work in mangrove forests, where the mud is frequently so full of crabs you can barely see the mud, this is a fear I’ve had to try (and fail) to overcome.

What is the greatest challenge you face in your work? Trying to be big and tough and not squeal when community members ask me to assist with the mud crab fattening activities we’re supporting them to develop!

Tell us one thing that people don’t know about you or wouldn’t expect about you? I use to be a volcanologist! I still love volcanoes and the fascinating science that drives them.


kate 1

Katrina Dewar

Where do you live: Andavadoaka, Madagascar
Where are you from originally: Dorset, UK
How long with BV: 3.5 years

Best bit about your role: Working with the most incredible, passionate and motivated team.

What excites you most about working for a conservation organisation? Constantly learning new things about people’s relationships with the sea.

Biggest fear: Jellyfish sandwiches!

What is the greatest challenge you face in your work? Living far from my family and friends in a remote environment.

Tell us one thing that people don’t know about you or wouldn’t expect about you?  I’ve never seen a live shark in the wild! 


Of course, these sentiments are not only important today, but everyday. We work tirelessly to empower women and girls in the communities we work with in. Catch up with some related content we’ve posted highlighting some of these important stories:

Or find out more about our conservation, community health and education work.

Victoria Jeffers

Posted by Victoria Jeffers

Victoria joined Blue Ventures in 2014 and spent a year in Madagascar coordinating our smartphone data collection efforts in the field, before moving to the London office. Here, she continues to work on our smartphone data collection strategy and is also drawing on her experience in the field to provide support for the conservation programmes and managers across Madagascar, Mozambique and the Comoros.

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