Previous research has shown that single mothers are among the most marginalized, isolated, and economically disadvantaged groups in Malagasy society (Ricaldi Coquelin 2010). Using qualitative data from a series of interviews with eleven single mothers in the Antananarivo region of Madagascar and participant observation of the daily activities at Akany Soanandrasana, a Catholic center providing support services and transitional housing to single mothers, this study provides an analysis of the life stories, daily realities, and struggles of the women participating in this study and examines broader social and cultural phenomena that play into these women’s experiences.
The pattern of absent fathers and the common expressions of feelings of social isolation, stigma, and shame which came up for all of the women in this study highlight double standards and societal norms which help play into a greater social phenomena which can be referred to as the feminization of poverty. The diversity in these women’s educational backgrounds show that lack of education and job qualification is not enough to explain their difficult situations. Finally, the struggles of the women in the study who did not receive support from Akany Soanandrasana draw attention to a need for more public support services for single mothers in Madagascar and increased awareness and accessibility of the support services that do exist.
Rose Reed-Maxfield, ’15
Majors: French, Sociology and Anthropology
Sponsor: Mary Olson