Haitian Women, the backbone of the Economy

Haitian women make up over half of the population, and arguably form the backbone of the Haitian economy. A graphical, visual, and metaphorical illustration of this can be witnessed daily in Haiti as women, wearing toks on their heads, carry heavy loads including water, food, market goods and even construction material around for miles in areas such as Port-au-Prince, Cabaret, The Central Plateau, Gonaives and Cap Haitien. All to earn an average wage of just $1 - $2 a day in a struggling economy.

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Kombit involving Haitian Women

Nevertheless it is clear that women are undervalued and treated as lower-class citizens compared with men. Carrying water using toks is still considered 'woman's work' for example, and they routinely face issues such as wage discrimination.

HFH Haiti's Building and Training center (BTC program) was set up to improve employment prospects and include the training women in construction. The number of applicants was initially lower than had been expected, but it was discovered that the organizer had deliberately fixed it so that women were excluded. The process was modified and the number of applicants and percentage of women shot up; 30% of the applications for construction training were women.

Tropical storms have put a further strain on the country, and it is even more vital to develop strategies that will enable women to form an even stronger backbone of the economy. For example, moving more toward gender equality, the better harnessing of talent by providing more training, and the viewing of violence against women as a barrier to their self-sufficiency, which adversely effects the economy, should be milestones of the future.

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