Madagascar is ranked 30 out of 86 in the 2012 Social Institutions and Gender Index.

The country was ranked 46 out of 102 in the 2009 Social Institutions and Gender Index.

In 2011, the Human Development Index for Madagascar was 0.480, placing the country at 151 out of 187 countries.  The 2011 Human Development Report did not provide a Gender Inequality Index score for Madagascar. In 2011, the World Economic Forum ranked Madagascar 71 out of 135 countries in its 2011 Global Gender Gap Report, with a score of 0.6797 where 0 represents inequality and 1 represents equality.

Discriminatory Family Code: 

The Family Code in Madagascar has recently been amended to raise the minimum age of marriage to 18 for both sexes.[4]  Previously, the law provided that the minimum age was 14 for women and 17 for men.[5]

Based on 2004 data, the United Nations reports that 33 per cent of girls between 15 and 19 years of age were married, divorced or widowed.[6]  Early pregnancy is also common, with a 2008-2009 Demographic Health Survey finding that 20 percent of 15-19 year old married women having had at least one child.[7]

Polygamy is prohibited by law in Madagascar, and is punishable by imprisonment.[8]  An extremely small portion of marriages are polygamous in Madagascar. In 2008-2009 a Demographic Health Survey found that only 0.4 percent of married men had more than one wife.[9]

The Family Code states that the father is the head of the family, however both parents have equal parental authority.[10]  Further, the law provides that both women and men have reciprocal rights and duties towards their children including when spouses separate, divorce or have marriages annulled.[11]

Inequalities in the family prevail in regard to women’s rights to inherit land and property. Except when an agreement is made between the spouses, widows do not inherit from their spouse. The Malagasy law ranks the surviving spouse – of either sex - as second to last in the inheritance line, with the state as last.[12]  With respect to succession, the law provides that co-successors can agree that female successors will receive their part of inheritance in the form of money instead of the immovable and productive assets.[13] 

[4] United Nations General Assembly (2009) State report p.6 [5] United Nations Committee on Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) (2008) p.36 [6] United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division (2008) [7] Demographic Health Surveys (n.d.) [8] CEDAW (1994) para 225 [9] Demographic Health Surveys (n.d.) [10] Noroarisoa, R. (2009) pp.12-13 [11] Noroarisoa, R. (2009) p.16 [12] Noroarisoa, R. (2009) p.17 [13] Noroarisoa, R. (2009) p.14

Restricted Physical Integrity: 

In 2000, the Criminal Code was amended to enhance protection against gender-based violence.[14]  The law prohibits rape with a penalty ranging from 5 years to life in prison, depending on various factors. Rapes of children and pregnant women are punishable by hard labour. Spousal rape is not prohibited under the law. The law prohibits domestic violence with two to five years of prison and a fine. Sexual harassment is also against the law.[15]

Despite the existence of legal protections, women’s physical integrity is compromised by the ineffective implementation and enforcement of the law. The 2009 African Women’s Report scored Madagascar on providing protection from rape on the basis of the law, policy commitment, planning, targets, institutional mechanisms, budget, human resources, research, involvement of civil society, information and monitoring and evaluation. The total score for Cameroon across these areas was 2 out of a possible 22. Similarly, on the effectiveness of domestic violence interventions, Madagascar scored 12 out of a possible 22.[16] 

Sexual violence and domestic violence are reported to be a serious problem in Madagascar.[17]  According to the US Department of State, the Morals and Minors Brigade reported receiving 10 to 12 rape-related complaints a day in 2008. With respect to domestic violence, it is estimated that 55 percent of women are victims of domestic violence.[18]

A key problem for women’s physical integrity is the widespread nature of attitudes that accept and excuse violence against women. Based on a 2004 Demographic and Health survey, it is estimated that 25 percent of women believe that a husband is justified in beating his wife if she neglects her children. Further, 14 percent believe that violence is justified in the event that a wife goes out without telling her husband.[19]

Female genital mutilation is not reported to be a common practice in Madagascar.[20]

Limitations on women’s reproductive rights also infringes upon women’s physical integrity in Madagascar. Abortion is permitted only in the event a woman’s life is at risk. It is not permitted in the event of rape or incest, due to foetal impairment, on request or on social or economic grounds.[21]  The 2008-2009 Demographic and Health Survey found that overall 40 percent of married women use contraception and 29 percent use modern methods of contraception. The use of modern contraception has increased from 5 percent in 1992. Despite the increasing use of modern contraceptives, 19 percent of married women reported an unmet need for family planning in the 2008-2009 survey.[22] 

[14] CEDAW (2008) pp.42-43 [15] US Department of State (2010) [16] Economic Commission of Africa (2009) pp.66-68 [17] US Department of State (2010) [18] US Department of State (2010) [19] Demographic Health Surveys (n.d.) [20] Inter-Parliamentary Union (n.d.) [21] United Nations Population Division (2007) [22] Demographic Health Surveys (n.d.)

Son Bias: 

Gender disaggregated data on child health in Madagascar, reported in the 2009 African Women’s Report does not provide evidence of son preference in relation to the allocation of nutrition to infants.[23]  Further, according to the World Economic Forum in 2010, Madagascar has achieved gender parity in primary and secondary school enrolment, indicating no preferential treatment of sons with respect to access to education.[24]

The male/female sex ratio for the total population in 2012 is 0.99.[25]

There is no evidence to suggest that Madagascar is a country of concern in relation to missing women.

[23] Economic Commission of Africa (2009) p.102 [24] World Economic Forum (2010) p.200 [25] Central Intelligence Agency (2012)

Restricted Resources and Entitlements: 

The law in Madagascar upholds women’s rights to ownership and there are no legal restrictions on women’s access to land. Ordinance No. 60-146 of 1960 relating to land ownership gives men and women equal rights to become landowners. However, in practice, land acquisition is strongly dependent on customs which can, in some cases infringe upon women’s rights, particularly in the south of the country. Such rights denial occurs in the cases of inheritance and sharing among spouses, and is all the more frequent given that most couples are married under the customary practices rather than common law.[26]

The law guarantees women’s access to property other than land. They can manage their own property without their husband’s agreement, whether it was acquired before or during the marriage. Under the law, both spouses have equal access to property acquired during the marriage, equal rights in jointly managing any property and equal rights to dispose of the property.[27]

Women in Madagascar have access to bank loans without their husband’s permission. It is reported that financial institutions have now eliminated requirements of requiring collateral in the form of immovable assets. Further, there has been the expansion of credit lines specifically targeted to women. However, illiteracy continues to pose a barrier for women accessing credit.[28]  Data from UNICEF reports the literacy rate of females compared to males as 85 percent.[29]  With respect to women’s engagement in business, the government reported in 2008 that men predominate in large business while women run smaller or more informal businesses.[30]

[26] CEDAW (2008) p.77; Noroarisoa, R. (2009) p.37 [27] CEDAW (2008) pp.80-81 [28] Noroarisoa, R. (2009) p.36-37 [29] UNICEF (2009) [30] CEDAW (2008) p.39

Restricted Civil Liberties: 

There are no reported restrictions on women’s freedom of access to public space in Madagascar. There are no reported practices that limit women’s access to public space..

The US Department of State reports that the government in does not respect press freedom and the right to association.[31]  There is no available information on the gender impact of such restrictions.

With respect to women’s participation in political life, the World Economic Forum reports that women make up only 9 per cent of Madagascar’s parliamentarians and 17 per cent of Ministerial positions.[32]  The most recent elections were held in 2007.[33]

The Labour Code of Madagascar provides women the equal right to work and the right to equal pay for work of equal value.[34]  Madagascar also has protections against pregnancy or marital status discrimination in the workplace.[35]  In 2003, the country introduced legislation providing three months paid maternity leave and 15 days paternity leave. Maternity leave is paid at 100 percent of wages.[36]

[31] US Department of State (2010) [32] World Economic Forum (2010) p.200 [33] Inter-Parliamentary Union (2010)[34] CEDAW (2008) p.38 [35] CEDAW (2008) p.71 [36] CEDAW (2008) p.71


Formerly an independent kingdom, Madagascar became a French colony in 1896 but regained independence in 1960. In early 2009, protests over increasing restrictions on opposition press and activities resulted in a change in political leadership. This has been followed by ongoing political tensions.[1]  The World Bank classifies Madagascar as a lower middle income country.[2]

Although Madagascar is faring well in terms of achieving parity with respect to primary and secondary school enrolments, continuing discriminatory practices and the high prevalence of violence against women pose obstacles to achieving substantive equality.

Madagascar has enshrined equality between men and women in its Constitution.[3]

Madagascar became a party to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) in 1989 and has also acceded to the Optional Protocol.

[1] Central Intelligence Agency (2010) [2] World Bank (n.d.) [3] Articles 8, 21, 27 and 28, Constitution of Madagascar 1992


Central Intelligence Agency (2010) The World Factbook: Madagascar, available at, accessed 20 November 2010.

Central Intelligence Agency (2012) The World Factbook: Sex Ratio, available at, accessed 9 March 2012.

Demographic Health Survey (n.d.) Madagascar – online data, available at, accessed 20 November 2010.

Economic Commission of Africa (2009) African Women’s Report 2009, Measuring Gender Inequality in Africa: Experiences and Lessons from the African Gender and Development Index, available at, accessed 15 October 2010.

Inter-Parliamentary Union (2010) Parline Database: Madagascar, available at, accessed 1 November 2010.

Inter-Parliamentary Union (n.d.) Parliamentary Campaign to Stop Violence Against Women, Female Genital Mutilation, Legislation and other national provisions, available at, accessed 1 November 2010,

Noroarisoa, R. (2009) Southern African Development Community Gender Protocol Baseline Study: Madagascar, available at, accessed 20 November 2010.

United Nations Committee on Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) (2008) Consideration of reports submitted by States parties under article 18 of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, Fifth periodic report of States parties, Madagascar, CEDAW/C/MDG/5, Geneva.

United Nations Committee on Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) (1994) Concluding Observations: Madagascar, A/49/38, New York.

United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division (2008) World Marriage Data 2008, available at, accessed 10 October 2010.

United Nations Development Programme (2009) Human Development Report 2009 Madagascar, online edition, available at, accessed 20 November 2010.

United Nations Development Programme (2010) Human Development Report 2010 Madagascar, online edition, available at, accessed 1 November 2010.

United Nations Development Programme (2011) Human Development Report 2011, available at, accessed 29 February 2012.

United Nations General Assembly (2009) Human Rights Council, Working Group on Universal Periodic Review, National Report Submitted in accordance with paragraph 15 (a) of the annex to Human Rights Council Resolution 5/1: Madagascar, A/HRC/WG.6/7/MDG/1, Geneva.

United Nations Population Division (2007) World Abortion Policies 2007, Available at, accessed 13 October 2010.

US State Department (2010) 2009 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: Madagascar, Available at, accessed 20 November 2010.

World Bank (n.d.) Online data: Madagascar, available at, accessed at 20 November 2010.

World Economic Forum (2010) Global Gender Gap Report 2010, Available at, accessed 20 October 2010.

World Economic Forum (2011) The Global Gender Gap Report 2011, available at, accessed 2 March 2012.


Discrim. Fam. Code Rank 2012: 
Discrim. Fam. Code Value 2012: 
Legal Age of Marriage: 
Early Marriage: 
Parental Authority: 
Rest. Phys. Integrity Rank 2012: 
Rest. Phys. Integrity Value 2012: 
Violence Against Women (laws): 
Female Genital Mutilation: 
Reproductive Integrity: 
Attitudes Towards Domestic Violence: 
Son Bias Rank 2012: 
Son Bias Value 2012: 
Missing Women: 
Fertility Preferences: 
Rest. Resources & Ent. Rank 2012: 
Rest. Resources & Ent. Value 2012: 
Access To Land: 
Access To Property Other Than Land: 
Access To Bank Loans And Credit: 
Rest. Civil Liberties Rank 2012: 
Rest. Civil Liberties Value 2012: 
Access To Public Space: 
Political Participation: 
Political Quotas: