Six months after the devastating Hurricane Matthew, we are facing a major challenge. Women farmers, suppliers of raw materials and ingredients to our partners, small and medium producers of hot pepper sauce, honey bee, herbal tea, hair products and other natural cosmetics and food for exports have been severely impacted by Hurricane Matthew in Southern communities.
We had to adopt a “two track plan”: one to continue to promote growth through women access to export niche markets, and another one to contribute to restore agriculture capacity and production of 300 women farmers in Beaumont and Dame Marie.
Yoni Trilogy celebrates Women History Month and the second anniversary of the Danielle Saint Lot Haiti Women’s Foundation. This unique art exhibit expresses the point of views of three young Haitian women painters displaying through their art, their spirituality and intuitive connection with nature. Their work reveals their inner selves and give the viewer the opportunity to discover three different expressions, perceptions and internal dialogue of womanhood.
Danielle Saint-Lôt is Ambassador at Large of the Republic of Haiti for Women’s Empowerment and a longtime member
of the Vital Voices Global Leadership Network.In 1998 she co-founded Femmes en Démocratie, the Haiti Chapter of Vital Voices, and in 2004 she was recognized with a Vital Voices Global Leadership Award. Ambassador Saint-Lôt served as the first female Minister of Commerce and Industry and has held several other key positions in Haiti’s government including Minister of Tourism. In 2012 Ambassador Saint-Lôt participated in the inaugural Global Ambassadors Program mentoring initiative in Haiti and was paired with Justine Metz, former Bank of America chief marketing officer, Global Wealth and Investment Management Marketing and Sales Support. We recently had a chance to catch up with Danielle on the one-year anniversary of the Danielle Saint-Lôt Haiti Women’s Foundation.
You are currently serving as Ambassador at Large for Haiti – what are your priorities?
I am currently Ambassador at Large of the Republic of Haiti forwomen’s empowerment. One of my priorities is to raise awareness about gender equality and women issues in Haiti at the international level. My second priority is to advocate for Haiti with international partners so that they fulfill their existing commitments on women’s empowerment and human rights, and to engage in new commitments that will close the gender equality gap. I also lobby foreign governments and legislative branches as well as multilateral and international cooperation agencies to increase resources to improve gender equality in Haiti and commit to acting in line with the Beijing Platform for Action and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
I was proud to celebrate my foundation’s first anniversary during Women’s History Month recently. The Danielle Saint-Lôt Haiti Women’s Foundation meets one of the four key priority areas of the National Women’s Platform launched at the first Global Ambassadors Program in Haiti in 2012: Increasing economic opportunities for women through its signature program the “Haiti Women’s Business Academy.” The Academy is a one-year “à la carte” program to train and prepare annual cohorts of 12-15 growth oriented female entrepreneurs for the global marketplace. The focus is on capacity building and optimizing the supply and value chains. The Academy’s members access innovative strategies and 21st century solutions to enhance distribution and production capability, gain access to capital markets and networks, and begin to export.
You were paired with Justine Metz during the inaugural Global Ambassadors Program in Haiti in 2012 – what did you work on together and what was the lasting impact?
I still call Justine ‘Mentor J.’ What started in 2012 as a productive mentorship relationship has evolved in a strong and enduring friendship and mutual engagement to team up for women’s empowerment worldwide. Justine has moved to Denver. Influenced by the Global Ambassadors Program, she has launched a women’s network at her company. She has been the first donor investing in my 501(c)(3) foundation and has helped fundraise through her personal network. We are exploring opportunities tohave the foundation, with the support of philanthropic funders, hold a “Matchmaking and Investment Marketplace” in Denver, in 2017, to provide Haitian female entrepreneurs seeking capital a deal room to pitch their business high growth projects to investors – both angels and venture capitalists.
Danielle Saint-Lôt in 2012 addressing the Global Ambassadors
What changes did you see in President Martelly’s cabinet after GAP and beyond, and did the National Women’s Platform for Haiti have an influence?
Less than a month after the National Women’s Platform endorsement by President Martelly, 48 percent women were appointed to the Government’s cabinet, including a female Minister of Economy and Finance. Platform’s objectives, four key priority areas and concrete lines of action have been integrated to the National Gender Equality Policy and its six-year Action Plan adopted by the Haiti Government on March 2015.
What are your fellow Global Ambassadors Program alumnae doing these days?
Mimose Felix was appointed Minister for Rural Affairs – a key position as women are the pillars of Haiti rural economy and social life; Rachel Coupaud is now first female Haitian Ambassador to Taiwan; and Annaise Fertil Jean and Marie Gisehlaine Mompremier both ran for Senate in the 2015 legislative elections.
A new Parliament has been inaugurated in January 2016 without a single woman. The absence of women in Parliament despite of a constitutional 30 percent quota for female participation in public offices, including elected posts is a threat to the fragile democratic process in Haiti. I hope Annaise, Giselhaine and other qualified female candidates will run again and win next Senate partial elections at the end of 2016.
New Foundation to Empower Women to Grow Haiti’s Economy
Washington, DC – Today on International Workers’ Day, Ambassador Danielle Saint Lot formally launched a new U.S. based non-profit organization to empower Haitian women through the promotion of social entrepreneurship and leadership development to prepare them to succeed locally and in the global marketplace. The signature program of the Danielle Saint Lot Haiti Women’s Foundation is the Business Academy, a one-year program to teach entrepreneurs in the agribusiness and craft sectors modern techniques.
“Women are the key to rebuilding Haiti. I am thrilled to embark on this important effort to make innovative strategies and 21st century solutions available in order to better enhance distribution and production capability, and expand access to capital so that women in Haiti can begin to export. An exciting component of this venture is the Haitian Women’s Business Academy, which at its core is part of the larger world movement to advocate for the missing middle in the marketplace, which is women owned SMEs, and grow the creative economy,” said Ambassador Saint Lot, founder of the new foundation.
An international champion of women’s rights, Ambassador Saint Lot is a member of Vital Voices’ Global Advisory Council and serves as a member of the Coca Cola Company’s Steering Committee for the Haiti Hope Project, which supports mango farmers. Additionally, she is the granddaughter of Haiti Ambassador Emile Saint Lot, who at the birth of the United Nations in 1945 served as Haiti’s first UN Ambassador, a member of the Security Council, and is credited with casting the deciding vote to make Israel a state in 1947.
Ambassador Saint Lot continues that legacy of social justice advocacy. “We need more resources to create greater economic opportunity for women in Haiti and increase the capacity of these dynamic SMEs, farmers, artisans, and entrepreneurs so they can reach their full potential and support their families and communities,” she added.
Ten enterprises have been selected to participate in this fall’s inaugural academy. The Foundation’s initiatives are implemented in Haiti. Its partners include The Raben Group and Small Axe Communications.
About The Danielle Saint Lot Haiti Women’s Foundation
(www.HaitiWomensFoundation.org): The Danielle Saint Lot Haiti Women’s Foundation, a U.S. based 501(c)(3) organization empowers Haitian women and prepares them to compete in the global marketplace. It also makes leadership activities available on critical topics, such as gender equality to advance social and economic rights for women. Its signature Haitian Women’s Business Academy trains small business owners in the agribusiness and craft sectors to foster capacity building and optimize the supply and value chains.
By Ambassador Danielle Saint-Lot, January 11, 2013
Three years after the devastating earthquake, Haitian women are not only back on our feet, we are working to create a country of peace, justice, and social and economic opportunity for all.
2012 was productive in many ways. To rekindle hope in Haiti’s future, a coalition of key organizations and female leaders from every part of the country — including every economic status and every background — came together to draft a document called the “‘Haitian Women’s Policy Platform for the Reconstruction of Haiti.”
The Danielle Saint-Lot Haiti Women's Foundation is a non-profit that seeks to bridge that gap to fill the ‘missing middle.’ The goal is to empower Haitian women through the promotion of social entrepreneurship, leadership skills, and professional development. The Foundation’s signature project, a one-year Haitian Women’s Business Academy, will equip women-owned enterprises to align with global trends and meet demand.