A Women’s Worth: PRODEPUR Promotes Women’s Health and Empowerment in the Slums
It all happened because, as Nurse Marie-Carmel Duclos explains, Haiti was “hot”. The term has many meanings in the island nation, and when Duclos uses it, she’s talking about the temperament of a nation. It was 2005 and the Haitian streets were chaotic, dangerous, and literally on fire from burning blockades. From her home quartier of Simmonds-Pele, adjacent to Haiti’s Cite-Soleil slum, Duclos had a first-hand view of the unfolding madness.
“One of the worst things I saw was the treatment of women,” the petite nurse explains. “I looked at what was happening, and not only were women’s rights being violated; women didn’t even know they HAD rights. They had no idea of their worth. It needed to change, and so in the middle of everything we created the United Movement to Support Women (MOTAKFA in Haitian Creole).”
MOTAKFA immediately began working with women in the community-providing job-skills training and promoting social empowerment. Soon, it became clear that a clinic was needed as well. “Reproductive healthcare, especially, was important,” Duclos explains. “Empowering women meant giving them a say in when they had children. Development, true development, looks at all the factors and sees how they work together.”
To establish the clinic, MOTAKFA approached the Simmonds Pele COPRODEP, the municipal councils that make up PADF’s Urban Participatory Development Project. They submitted their proposal to the council, which, as with all of PRODEPUR’s 120 and counting projects, voted on, and approved the initiative. A four-room clinic was soon established in Simmonds-Pele, run by Duclos. It is the only healthcare provider for over 500 of the zone’s inhabitants.
The clinic, which has its formal inauguration at the end of the month, provides reproductive health services as well as a wide array of basic and preventative care services that allows all members of the community, women and male, to be able to protect their health. It is used by women like Mikael-Ange, a 21 year old who visits the clinic every three months for family planning. “I come here because my life is mine to live,” she explains, “and I should have a say in how I live it. The clinic allows me to control my destiny.”