Haitian women are bringing the devastated island back to life

Haiti has struggled to regain its footing on the world stage after the devastating 7.0 magnitude earthquake ravaged the island nation back in 2010, leaving over 230,000 dead.

Even before the quake, an estimated two-thirds of the Haitian labor force did not have formal jobs and unemployment was estimated to be over 40%.

But now a new group of unlikely players are helping to improve the island’s failing economy: local Haitian women.

 

The Clinton Foundation–which has raised over $30 million for Haiti–believes women could be what saves the struggling nation and return its economy to a sustainable state. The organization is creating local programs and opportunities specifically designed for the young girls and women of Haiti to develop entrepreneurial business skills.

Chelsea Clinton, Vice Chair, and Donna Shalala, the organization’s President, were on the island this week furthering the foundation’s efforts in business engagement with programs focused on women.

 

“Chelsea and I, along with those who traveled with us, met remarkable people and saw firsthand the power of our life changing work,” Shalala told Fusion.

Chelsea’s Instagram “takeover” takes us behind the scenes of their travels in Haiti.

 

But the journey has not been easy. Nearly half of Haitian women are illiterate; the social stigma of being single or widowed has barred women from pursuing their professional aspirations, and only 7% of Haitian women have internet access.

The Clinton Foundation’s new programs aim to target and empower women to reach their full potential. The program called “No Ceilings” teaches women how to bridge the gap between small businesses and growing trends in technology, while thinking locally.

“I saw partnerships. I saw progress. I saw our work in action. At the Foundation, we say that our goal is to work ourselves out of a job,” Shalala says of their experience. “We may not be out of a job quite yet, but we’re certainly on our way.”

 

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