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Haiti: The WE-LEAD Program

Women Empowered to Lead and Advocate for Development (WE-LEAD) is a USAID-funded program that strengthens emerging leaders in order to foster and sustain a vibrant and multi-generational women’s movement in Haiti. These women are catalysts for effective and sustainable development, and are committed to leading and inpsiring future generations.

Impact

Debate Club and Cyber Center

The WE-LEAD Resource Center’s “Popular Education/Feminist Debate Club” currently welcomes 30-60 women each Thursday to freely discuss issues related to women and their rights. Debate themes vary but have included: religion and women’s rights, family planning, women’s sexual and reproductive health, gender based violence, leadership and the women’s movement, gender in literature, and current events.

Library Center

The Resource Center has established a substantial women’s rights library, which features books and periodicals written by Haitian women on women’s human rights, gender, and the status of women in Haitian society. “Reading Weeks” were launched during the second year of the program, focusing on topics such as the participation of women in the reconstruction process, and the feminization of HIV.

Computer Classes/Social Media

Since its establishment, the WE-LEAD Resource Center’s Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) training sessions have run at maximum capacity and have reached over 1500 women and girls, the majority of whom have then gone on to participate in various additional empowerment activities at the center.

Parliamentary Advocacy

WE-LEAD and local women’s groups have engaged in direct advocacy with members of the Haitian Parliament, opening a constructive dialogue between women leaders and a pool of sensitized deputies. WE-LEAD conducts targeted advocacy meetings with influential members of parliament to advocate for women’s priorities.

Dialogue with Reconstruction Actors

WE-LEAD staff has initiated and facilitated new dialogues in key reconstruction areas between local women’s groups and representatives of large international NGOs and local authorities. In some cases these conversations generated new forms of collaboration between local NGOs and WE-LEAD, and in others it motivated local allies to create issue-specific specific advocacy campaigns. For example, Flore des Femmes, REFOJE, SOFA and Fanm Deside are currently working on a campaign against sexual harassment as a result of their engagement with WE-LEAD staff.