Claudette Werleigh, Prime Minister of Haiti

Some say seven is a lucky number, but in the case of Haiti's 7th Prime Minister, luck took a back seat to hard work, as Claudette Werleigh used her learning and self-efficacy to propel her into history as Haiti's first female prime minister.


Born on September 26, 1946, Werleigh grew up wealthy and under the Roman Catholic faith. She described how, at an early age, she empathized with the poor traders who she would see come to trade their coffee for their livelihoods. Early on she decided to do what she could to narrow the chasm between the haves and the have-nots.

Claudette Werleigh, born Claudette Antoine, studied in many prestigious fields across the globe, such as, in Switzerland and the U.S., medicine and finally law and economics in Port-au-Prince. Her early work involved humanitarian relief and adult literacy. She also spent 11 years as Caritas Haiti's secretary general and founded the women's league for women's empowerment.

She honed her political skills in the 90's as Social Affairs Minister between March and August of 1990 and then as chef de cabinet in the office of Prime Minister Préval from March to September of the following year. This led to her exile after the 1991 coup, during which time, until October of 1993, she acted as the Washington Office of Haiti's executive director.

Upon returning to Haiti that year, Claudette Werleigh was made Foreign Affairs Minister, which she remained until she was made prime minister in 1995. She would hold the job, like many others, for less than a year. She followed up this political career pinnacle with her work in Uppsala, Sweden as the programmes director for Conflict Transformation at the Life and Peace Institute.

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