By Teen Voices editorial intern Michelle Golden
Even before the devastating earthquake hit Haiti on January 12, the country was struggling to forge a hopeful future. On January 20, three leaders in the women’s movement in Haiti were proclaimed dead as a result of the quake. Myriam Merlet, Magalie Marcelin, and Anne Marie Coriolan were three innovative leading women who empowered other women by peacefully negotiating against violence and establishing rape as a crime in Haiti — a crime that was prevalent before it was made punishable.
According to CNN’s Jessica Ravitz, Merlet, 53, was the chief of staff of Haiti’s Ministry for Gender and the Rights of Women, established in 1995. Also the founder of Enfofamn, an organization that works towards raising awareness about women through media, Merlet often made an effort to get streets named after Haitian women.
Marcelin was another well-known activist, as well as an actress and lawyer. Known for establishing the women’s rights organization Kay Fanm, which focuses specifically on domestic violence, Marcelin helped women in need by offering shelter and services to domestic violence victims.
Coriolan founded the advocacy and services organization Solidarite Fanm Ayisye, or Solidarity with Haitian Women. She was acknowledged as the top advisor of the women’s rights ministry.
These inspiring leaders fought with pride to establish equality for Haitian women. We have them, and Haiti, in our hearts.