Haitian Feminist Leader

Myriam Merlet, the Chief of Staff of the Ministry for Women in Haiti, perished in the earthquake in Port Au Prince. She was trapped in her home and passed away before she could be rescued. Like many who sought exodus from poverty and repression, she fled Haiti in the 1970’s. After a politically active life in the Haitian Diaspora, Myriam returned to Haiti with her young family in 1986. As both a political activist and professional, Myriam remained committed to the process of social and political change in Haiti. Myriam is also a published author on women’s rights, race and gender issues.
V-Day met Myriam in 2001 when she first requested to bring the V-Day movement to Haiti. Despite riots and coups, she brought The Vagina Monologues to the women and girls of Port Au Prince, raising the issue of violence against women and girls in a region where women suffer some of the worst poverty and gender-based- violence in the world. Myriam was a force of nature and one of Haiti and the Caribbean’s most beloved leaders of the women’s movement. As a true Vagina Warrior she was an integral part of creating the V-Day Haiti Sorority Safe House in Port Au Prince. She has been with V-Day through our small victories and our biggest moments, from building the safe house in Haiti, to joining thousands of women and men from all over the world in New Orleans for V TO THE TENTH.

She was a leader, a warrior, a mother, and a friend. And she will be greatly missed by V-Day, and her fellow activists all over the world.
“She was one of the most humble, devoted, committed, brilliant, loving women. She was a revolutionary and a visionary and had the hugest heart. And she was fun. She inspired many and lifted many and I am grateful beyond words to have known her and been in this struggle with her. And now, all of us must commit ourselves to Haiti, to women, to their future with all our hearts.”
-Eve Ensler

“I look at things through the eyes of women, very conscious of the roles, limitations, and stereotypes imposed on us. Everything I do is informed by that consciousness. So I want to get to a different concept and application of power than the one that keeps women from attaining their full potential… The basis of my work with women is to open them up to other things, give them new tools, give them new capabilities. ..give women the opportunity to grow…”

“The More People Dream,” by Myriam Merlet, excerpt from Walking on Fire: Haitian Women’s Stories of Survival and Resistance.

 

action alert from Association for Women’s Rights in Development.

Feminist International Solidarity camp “Myriam Merlet” to open on Haitian-Dominican Republic Border next week

The solidarity camp is named after Myriam Merlet, a feminist activist who was killed in the earthquake last week. As an outspoken activist, Merlet helped draw international attention to the use of rape as a political weapon.

A Feminist International Solidarity Camp to help mobilize and transfer resources, and to open channels of communications directly with Haitian women will open next week on the frontier Jemaní between the Dominican Republic & Haiti.

As a project organized by women’s groups in Haiti, the Dominican Republic, and elsewhere in Latin America & the Caribbean and beyond, the Camp will be eventually handed over to Haitian women. The international solidarity camp is named after Myriam Merlet, It is organized as a Resource Center for international solidarity efforts to send resources directly to the women of Haiti, and also work with Human Rights defenders from Haiti to monitor, denounce and demand legal action regarding violations of human rights including women’s human rights during the earthquake and the aftermath.

Also to be included is a Health Center to help deal the grief, injuries, illnesses and traumas of the earthquake. Coordinators of these efforts include the Women & Health Collective (COMUS) a women’s human rights and health NGO, and CIPAF, a feminist NGO of the Dominican Republic that works in building social/political movement. The space will also serve as a Communications Center to include radio transmissions via Internet by FIRE (Feminist International Radio Endeavour), as well as blogs, and electronic networks organized by women’s communication networks throughout the region. FIRE was the first international internet radio created and run by women from Latin America and the Caribbean. Participation is needed, particularly to find resources, share information from the Camp and develop solidarity in your place. .

For more information in English about the Myriam Merlet Feminist International Solidarity Camp and other ways to participate go to: www.radiofeminista.net (webpage of FIRE radio) as of Febrary 1st. Write in English to oficina@radiofeminista.net

Or write in Spanish to: Colectiva Mujer y Salud in the Dominican Republic at http://www.colectivamujerysalud.org colec.mujer@codetel.net.do Centro de Investigación para la Acción FemeninaCIPAF also in the Dominican Republic at: http://www.cipaf.org.do