Women you should know: Marie Gisèle Aimée Rabesahala

Marie Gisèle Aimée Rabesahala  was born in 1929 in Madagascar.

She was a politician and activist who was the first woman to hold a ministerial position in the government of Madagascar. Marie entered politics at the age of 17, campaigning on behalf of political prisoners, and becoming Madagascar’s first woman municipal Councillor, before becoming the first Malagasy woman to establish and lead a political party.


In 1977 she became Madagascar’s first female minister, responsible for promoting revolutionary art and culture, but lost her job in 1991 when her ministry was abolished in the course of Madagascar’s return to multi-party democracy. She remained an active political campaigner and journalist until her death in 2011.

Here are a few facts to know about this revolutionary woman:

  1. She never married.
  2. She is regarded as a pioneer in Malagasy politics.
  3. She had no children.
  4. As a child, Gisèle dreamed of becoming a nun.
  5. She was trained as a shorthand typist.

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