Seven Mothers’ Clubs form the hub of S.E.E. Famn (Sante/Health Edikasyon/Education Ekonomi/Economic Livelihood pou Fanm yo/for Women) — a member of WomenStrong International’s Consortium dedicated to empowering women and girls to become agents of change in their communities and beyond. The Mothers’ Clubs’ goal is to train participants to become community leaders, peer educators and promoters of healthy living in their communities.
Oftentimes, our meetings take place in a central, familiar location where the women can gather and take the opportunity to dress up. Once we take our seats, the women sing a welcome song, and the group leader, a community health worker, gives the agenda for the day and explains that the women will be sharing what they’ve learned through skits and songs covering a range of issues, among them: preventative care, reproductive health, neonatal health, healthy living, safe water, sanitation.
We can also say that the Mothers’ Clubs serve as a diagnostic tool to help us understand the nestled causes of poverty, ill health and the general subordinate position of women in the public sphere. Fewer women in Haiti’s north can read and write and therefore few women occupy positions of power and receive loans; women are more prone to disease than men, their bodies weakened by multiple pregnancies, hard work and lack of food; women are more often victims of domestic and sexual violence; and very few women understand and participate in the political process or know their rights.
The goal of S.E.E. Fanm is to empower women and girls in the commune of Borgne by addressing these barriers and working with them to overcome them. This will not happen overnight, but we have started a process that will continue to expand as more women become leaders and encourage others to join the wave of change.