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The Children's Villages in Santo, near Port-au-Prince and Cap Haitien are home to children from Haiti who face some of the poorest conditions in the world. SOS Children's Villages has been working here since 1982 and has also provided aid during natural disasters occurring in Haiti … more about our charity work in Haiti

Haiti two years on: Proud to be a woman

Women attending the event at an SOS Social Centre
Women attending the event at an SOS Social Centre

In Haiti, women’s role in society is often overlooked and underappreciated. SOS Children are working to highlight the rights of women in the country and empower women to realise their potential.

This International Woman‘s Day, Phara Olivier, Director of the SOS Children‘s Village in Santo, wanted to mark the role of SOS mothers in the SOS Children’s Village. SOS mothers are the cornerstone of our organisation. As the head of their families, they are responsible, caring, loving and protecting. Phara invited the mothers to a local community centre to take part in activities to celebrate the day. At the event, Haitian author and filmmaker Dominique Batraville talked about gender differences in many areas of work, how they seem to be vanishing, and the important role of women in Haitian history and in the society. She also highlighted women’s vital role in helping to rebuild the economic system in the aftermath of the earthquake in January 2010.
Asked what women’s day means to her personally, Phara says, “Primarily it is a day like every other day. Each day should be used to talk about those topics and to mention difficulties of women and inequalities in our society. Women deserve respect.“

Natacha Pericles, a family worker from SOS Children‘s Village in Santo who participated in the event with the SOS mothers says “We wanted to raise awareness, we want the mothers to know what it means to be a women and what it meant throughout history. Some would say, that it means being especially sensitive, generous and affectionate - but I think it means being exactly what you want to be, and not what they are asking you to be.“

The day was also celebrated by women participating in our SOS Family Strengthening Programmes in Santo, which currently operates through 16 community centers and 10 feeding centers. SOS worker Rose Viala Aleo visited some of the centres on the day, where women gathered to discuss, listen, and learn from each other. Some performed dances at the event and others gave impromptu speeches. Rose says that women have a very important role which is often underappreciated. “Women care for the children, they bring them up, they feed, they nurse, they heal, they give homes. And it took a long time, but now women start to realise how important we are.“ she says.

In Haiti, many girls are still unable to access education. In a poor society, many families choose to send their sons to school, rather than their daughters. SOS Children are working through our Family Strengthening Programmes to encourage girl’s education and support women to realise their potential in the long-term. This includes offering vocational training courses in skills such as craft-making and entrepreneurial skills, to support women to set up their own businesses and become less dependent on their husbands and boyfriends.

In the immediate aftermath of the Haiti earthquake, SOS Children stepped up to provide Emergency Relief for children and families most affected. Now, nearly two years on from the disaster, read how we are contributing to Haiti’s long-term recovery.

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Every day we help children whose lives have been damaged by natural disasters, conflict, poverty, or disease. Please consider making a one-off or regular donation. You will be part of helping children grow up with the security, love, and respect that they need. Thank you.