Durrell Women: Hanitra Rakotojaona - Community Conservation-Rural Development Coordinator
How long have you worked at Durrell and what does your job involve?
I’ve been working at Durrell for almost six years. My main job is to coordinate the conservation livelihoods work, which involves engaging and supporting local communities in conservation actions while improving their living conditions and wellbeing.
What did you do before coming to work at Durrell?
Before I joined Durrell, I worked for a national rural development project funded by the World Bank in Madagascar as Environmental and Social Safeguard Specialist. After that I was in charge of the coordination of livelihood and human assistance activities for a United States NGO called Catholic Relief Services.
What were some of the biggest challenges you have had to overcome in your career so far, and how did you overcome them?
Despite the efforts to promote gender equality in Madagascar, inequality between men and women is still very much felt in Malagasy society, especially in rural areas and for some ethnic groups. For women who occupy positions of responsibility, this situation is among the most complicated challenge we have to face.
To overcome this, I had to learn to respect and adapt to local cultures and customs that I was not used to. Then, while staying focused on my objectives, I did my best to be a professional and be a personal example to follow to show that other qualities matter as well as gender. I also try not to attach importance to discriminatory comments or behaviour, as for me it’s results that are most important.
What advice would you give to others thinking of pursuing a similar role?
When you appreciate and have conviction for what you do and why you do your job, you always manage to find the motivation and not shrink from challenges. The work is also fascinating because you are always learning while at the same time making a difference for your country and for humanity.
Posted 8 March 2021