Haitian Women’s March 8th Declaration
Danièle Magloire for Enfofanm, et al, Haiti
March 8, 2002
The dawn of the XXIst century rose on women marching. Women throughout the whole world marched in their countries holding hands, marching together again on October 17th 2000 in New York. If so many women, coming from so many different horizons, are looking in the same direction, it is because indeed each and every one of them is conscious of sharing the same fate. If so many women continue to walk side by side, it is because they very well know that they share the same world. If so many women continue to call upon their sisters to join them in this long march, it is also because they believe that if they put their voices together, the womanly power of their song will be able to change their tomorrows so as to give birth to societies that welcome the diversity of humankind as a source of richness; societies in which one’s sex will no longer be the reason for either privileges or discrimination.
This March 8th is an occasion for us, Haitian women’s organizations engaged in the women’s struggle, to proclaim our sisterhood, that is to say, to express our profound solidarity with all women, wherever they are, whoever they are. Our solidarity conjugates itself daily with regard to the degrading fate reserved to woman in societies, in Haitian society, just because they are of the female gender. Our sisterhood carries all the faces of understanding, listening, sharing and moving forward. We understand, because we have developed the intelligence of the heart. We hear and pay attention to others as we know the results of being good listeners. We share because we well know that beyond appearances, the sorrow of each one of us is for all of us. We walk together because we want to take the path of life in order to meet with all of our sisters. And with them, we want to talk with our brothers, men, of the necessity to build other gender relationships, relationships that negate domination, for domination crushes the victims and cripples the oppressors. We want relationships that allow us to grow; relationships from which we can work collectively to give new foundation to our quest for a new society, a Haitian society that cares for human beings, a society based upon justice.
Once again we celebrate March 8th at an extremely difficult political conjuncture and amidst its dreadful consequences on people’s lives, notably the most deprived and vulnerable categories of citizens because of their social status. Political wrong doings have turned the management of public affairs into a nightmare that is designed to annihilate our quest for change and to drive us into fleeing our homeland as a tragic alternative. Impunity, as a corollary to unstapled insecurity, continues to spread sorrow. In this conjuncture of despair, we have special thoughts for our sisters of the ghetto in Cité Soleil and their families. Whenever groups confront each other with violence, women are the first victims. Each house that is being burned down means homeless women left in the streets with their children. Each confrontation carries its toll of raped women. We refuse to believe that misery engenders such situations. How can misery afford to buy weapons and ammunition in order to wage war? We do however know that misery is dehumanizing and we know how much the condition of Haitian women has to do with the worldwide phenomenon of the feminization of poverty.
This March 8th 2002 is an occasion for us to mark our utmost respect for the daily struggle waged by Haitian women. In this hard battle, women do not use weapons that destroy life. Quite the contrary, they demonstrate their capacity to develop all possible resources of ingenuity and purposefulness so that life can live on. The tenacity of Haitian women is geared toward preserving life, and, it is thanks to their daily courage that Haiti is able to survive in spite of the turmoil.
To look at Haiti with women’s eyes is to discover the possible and most of all to find the strength to continue to search for our tomorrows. It is also a will to join with those who are marching forward unflinchingly so that tomorrow can belong to our sons and daughters, citizens to whom we shall have given the desire to continue to dream Haiti.
A joint declaration made on International Women’s Day by the following Haitian Women’s Organizations: Enfofanm, Fanm Yo La, Kay Fanm, and Solidarité des Femmes Haïtiennes (SOFA).