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In Memoriam: Haitian Feminist Leader Myriam Merlet

1/19/2010

In Memoriam:

Myriam Merlet

Haitian Feminist Leader

1956-2010

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.

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