"Often Haitians do not understand what feminism is, let alone why the empowerment of women is crucial for the country’s development.
“When the earthquake struck in 2010, nationally known leaders and local community leaders championing for the elevation of the status of women passed away. When it came to rebuilding efforts and the creation of projects, young women’s voices were largely absent. This caused many projects to fail or yield little sustainable results, as they did not answer to the reality of the needs of women, children and their communities.
“Haiti is the poorest country in the western hemisphere, and in times of poverty, especially in a macho society, women and children suffer the most. Gendered issues faced in Haiti are cyclical and directly tied to women being treated as second-class citizens, extremely harsh economic situations and the lack of access to schools and good education. Domestic violence and sexual harassment have also been normalized, and coupled with the lack of access to safe and comprehensive sexual education, which excludes LGBTQ issues and promotes abstinence, are major challenges. A terrifying amount of young women and adolescent girls die each year from lack of pre-and post-natal care, and from botched home-induced abortions.
“As a teenager, my sister introduced me to feminism and what it meant to fight for women’s rights. Although we were not yet familiar with feminist theory, we were quickly able to see how people around us acted in sexist or misogynistic ways. Later, at university abroad, I studied Women and Gender Studies. I learned about feminist movements around the world and participated in debates with my mentors and classmates. Being a member of the campus’ feminist organizations and several online communities gave me a platform to share my experiences, learn from others, and provided a strong support system.
“Feminism became for me the fire that kept me going when I was battling with depression. It’s such a major part of my identity; it translates into my friendships, my relationships, and my work in Haiti. Identifying as a feminist makes me fight to be a better person, as I am never done learning and challenging myself."